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Old 09-04-2018, 11:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewtownBucks View Post
Wissahickon School District (Ambler) is every bit as good as Central Bucks (Doylestown). Both are two of the top districts in the state (both A+, CB #9, Wissahickon #12 on Niche ratings, which means zero difference). Another option that might be easier to fit in the $450k budget is Lansdale. Slightly more urban than either Doylestown or Ambler with a nice downtown in North Penn schools (also A+ rated).
You are right, thanks for the correction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JacksonPanther View Post
That Merck location just won't support you living in downtown Philly. Your only options for the city are Chestnut Hill and Mt airy, which are both really good neighborhoods in Philly, by the way. The closer to Germantown Ave, the more walkable will be your daily life.

Ambler or jenkintown are on the train line to North Wales, and I think have walkable areas.
Agreed. The only issue with Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy are that the city wage tax and private school are in play. The public schools are sub-par unfortunately.
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:09 PM
 
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Fantastic! Thank you very much for these suggestions. Helps to narrow down our search. We'll focus on Chestnut Hill, Ambler, Lansdale, and - if we can afford - Doylestown.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:12 PM
 
Location: North Jackson
2,076 posts, read 3,334,428 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
The only issue with Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy are that the city wage tax and private school are in play. The public schools are sub-par unfortunately.
If pretty much everyone in Chestnut Hill is reasonable well off, why would the local schools be bad? Shouldn't they have the best public schools in the city, at least elementary and Junior high?

If you live in Chestnut Hill, what's your local high school?
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:57 PM
 
Location: North by Northwest
7,473 posts, read 10,234,141 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacksonPanther View Post
If pretty much everyone in Chestnut Hill is reasonable well off, why would the local schools be bad? Shouldn't they have the best public schools in the city, at least elementary and Junior high?

If you live in Chestnut Hill, what's your local high school?
The overwhelming majority of Chestnut Hill residents self-select into private schools.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:54 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,209 posts, read 3,048,381 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
Agreed. The only issue with Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy are that the city wage tax and private school are in play. The public schools are sub-par unfortunately.
The folks in charge at Mt. Airy USA (that neighborhood's CDC) have for several years sponsored agent tours of the neighborhood's three public schools. They seem to subscribe to the view held by some here that "the public schools aren't as bad as everyone says they are."

They are probably in sync spiritually with the folks behind this organization:

IntegratedSchools.org - families CHOOSING integration

Its underlying premise: White families contribute to the problem of school segregation by refusing to enroll their children in local schools where they might (will) be in the minority because they fear they "won't get a good education." Parents who enroll their children in such schools and actively engage with the entire school community, this group argues, will find that their children actually will get a good education, and not just in the academic subjects.

I've been collecting anecdotes from random parents and others and filing them in a mental file labeled as above. The common thread: Even the "mediocre" or "bad" schools have many engaged faculty, and many of them have administrators who are actually committed to the school and their children. (One signal of such commitment: Do the floors sparkle at the school?) If parents will only "take the plunge," they may be pleasantly surprised by what they find - and learn.

Most of the children who attend Chestnut Hill's one public elementary school, John Story Jencks, actually live in the section of the upper Northwest that the planners call Cedarbrook to the consternation of the residents, who will tell you they too live in Mt. Airy. (Given what the builders of the houses that occupy the former Cedarbrook Golf Course told their buyers in the 1950s, these residents are correct in their assertion, never mind whether this was part of the old Germantown Township (it isn't) or is located in Mt. Airy's zip code (it has its own, 19150). When the developers got their hands on it starting in 1946, the buyers were heavily Jewish; now, the homeowners are overwhelmingly African-American. (Anyone recognize a pattern here? If so, know why the pattern exists?)

The gentleman who owns half of Chestnut Hill's commercial real estate is a major financial supporter of the school - a one-man "Friends of" group, if you will. (Jencks does have one.) He is also a gay man with no children in a longstanding couple relationship.

I've gone on a bit, but I'd endorse the notion that more affluent white families should consider "taking the plunge" - or the leap of faith, if you will - of enrolling their children in their local mostly-black public school, especially if said school is located in an integrated or gentrifying neighborhood. Mt. Airy fills the first of those two criteria.

Edited to add a credential and a disclosure statement: I too am a childless gay man, but African-American rather than white. However, as I edit and produce just about all of the content for the real estate section of one of our region's leading publications, I do pay attention to school issues because I know the readers will.

Last edited by MarketStEl; 09-04-2018 at 11:07 PM..
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,209 posts, read 3,048,381 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacksonPanther View Post
If pretty much everyone in Chestnut Hill is reasonable well off, why would the local schools be bad? Shouldn't they have the best public schools in the city, at least elementary and Junior high?

If you live in Chestnut Hill, what's your local high school?
To answer the technical question, the neighborhood high school for all of Northwest Philadelphia above the Wissahickon is Martin Luther King.

Chances are, however, that any Chestnut Hill parent who does enroll their kids in public school will aim to get them into either Masterman or Central, both highly rated schools that offer a college-prep curriculum. You need to pass an exam to get into the latter, and endure a lottery on top of the exam to get into the former. Both rate among the state's 10 best public high schools (Masterman is usually #1), and both are far more diverse than most other high schools in Pennsylvania - Central in particular, I think, has the most diverse student body of any top-rated high school in the Commonwealth.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,209 posts, read 3,048,381 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyers Girl View Post
Okay. I'd say no to living in those areas, personally. If you want to be within the city limits and not terribly far from North Wales, Chestnut Hill is the area to be. That said, consider the fact that once within the city limits, you will be subject to the city wage tax. It'll be somewhat less for because you would only live in the city and not work there too, but it's something to think about. I think the suggestions of Lansdale, Ambler, etc. are good ones to start.
The city wage tax is lower only if one works but does not live in the city. Anyone who lives in it, regardless where they work, pays the full resident rate.
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Old 09-05-2018, 07:52 AM
 
5,348 posts, read 5,570,613 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarketStEl View Post
The folks in charge at Mt. Airy USA (that neighborhood's CDC) have for several years sponsored agent tours of the neighborhood's three public schools. They seem to subscribe to the view held by some here that "the public schools aren't as bad as everyone says they are."

They are probably in sync spiritually with the folks behind this organization:

IntegratedSchools.org - families CHOOSING integration

Its underlying premise: White families contribute to the problem of school segregation by refusing to enroll their children in local schools where they might (will) be in the minority because they fear they "won't get a good education." Parents who enroll their children in such schools and actively engage with the entire school community, this group argues, will find that their children actually will get a good education, and not just in the academic subjects.

I've been collecting anecdotes from random parents and others and filing them in a mental file labeled as above. The common thread: Even the "mediocre" or "bad" schools have many engaged faculty, and many of them have administrators who are actually committed to the school and their children. (One signal of such commitment: Do the floors sparkle at the school?) If parents will only "take the plunge," they may be pleasantly surprised by what they find - and learn.

Most of the children who attend Chestnut Hill's one public elementary school, John Story Jencks, actually live in the section of the upper Northwest that the planners call Cedarbrook to the consternation of the residents, who will tell you they too live in Mt. Airy. (Given what the builders of the houses that occupy the former Cedarbrook Golf Course told their buyers in the 1950s, these residents are correct in their assertion, never mind whether this was part of the old Germantown Township (it isn't) or is located in Mt. Airy's zip code (it has its own, 19150). When the developers got their hands on it starting in 1946, the buyers were heavily Jewish; now, the homeowners are overwhelmingly African-American. (Anyone recognize a pattern here? If so, know why the pattern exists?)

The gentleman who owns half of Chestnut Hill's commercial real estate is a major financial supporter of the school - a one-man "Friends of" group, if you will. (Jencks does have one.) He is also a gay man with no children in a longstanding couple relationship.

I've gone on a bit, but I'd endorse the notion that more affluent white families should consider "taking the plunge" - or the leap of faith, if you will - of enrolling their children in their local mostly-black public school, especially if said school is located in an integrated or gentrifying neighborhood. Mt. Airy fills the first of those two criteria.

Edited to add a credential and a disclosure statement: I too am a childless gay man, but African-American rather than white. However, as I edit and produce just about all of the content for the real estate section of one of our region's leading publications, I do pay attention to school issues because I know the readers will.
I appreciate all of this, but I can't say that Mt. Airy schools are good. That's the OP's request. Now, there's a long conversation to be had regarding the actual situation (Great Schools = 3/10), and while I agree with a lot of what you say, the issue with the schools isn't just a cosmetic issue. Three principals in less than 5 years, vulgarity from kids in 4th grade, etc.

At the end of the day, all parents face the dilemma, but it's not one to take lightly. What if the OP invests in the schools but no one else does? What if he/she has to uproot their family in 3 years because they realize that this is not what they want for their children?

Btw, the website for Mt Airy USA looked out of date last time I was on it. That doesn't instill confidence either.
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:07 AM
 
1,114 posts, read 1,966,735 times
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If you are going to live in Chestnut Hill or Mt Airy or anywhere else in the City of Philadelphia, you need to operate under the assumption that you will need to send your kids to private school. There is a long story behind it, going back 50 years, and having to do with the failed social experiments of the past, but it doesn't really matter at this point. There are many good private schools nearby, but they are very expensive, other than Catholic parochial schools (some of which are good, and some of which are not so good).

Even the elementary schools are bad in those areas, by any objective criteria. Maybe they would work for your children, but you have to be prepared for the reality if it doesn't work out (private school or moving). Maybe you could successfully navigate the magnate school system at the high school level, but you need to be prepared for the reality if it doesn't work out (private school or moving). And those magnate schools are still going to have a very different environment than a suburban school, which may or may not be appealing to you.
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Old 09-05-2018, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,209 posts, read 3,048,381 times
Reputation: 3932
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
I appreciate all of this, but I can't say that Mt. Airy schools are good. That's the OP's request. Now, there's a long conversation to be had regarding the actual situation (Great Schools = 3/10), and while I agree with a lot of what you say, the issue with the schools isn't just a cosmetic issue. Three principals in less than 5 years, vulgarity from kids in 4th grade, etc.

At the end of the day, all parents face the dilemma, but it's not one to take lightly. What if the OP invests in the schools but no one else does? What if he/she has to uproot their family in 3 years because they realize that this is not what they want for their children?

Btw, the website for Mt Airy USA looked out of date last time I was on it. That doesn't instill confidence either.
Three principals in five years suggests there are some problems at that school. There are three in Mt. Airy, or were you talking about Jencks?

I guess my counter might be Chester A. Arthur in Graduate Hospital. That school also scores a 3 on GreatSchools and a C- on Niche, but it also has a large and active Friends group that has made significant investments in the school. I think the racial breakdown of its student body has also gotten more diverse (which in its case would mean whiter) over the past few years.

Another might be Andrew Jackson in Passyunk Square (GreatSchools: 4; Niche: C-). One of the entries in that mental file of mine comes from a woman who I met through my work (she had been the marketing coordinator for a husband-and-wife real estate broker team I worked with personally; you will find me on videos they put up on the agency's website) and have become friendly with personally. She had her son enrolled in that school and told me she was pleased with the education she was getting. Now, this person doesn't follow the crowd in just about any sense, but I figure that if this white woman could find something good there, so could others who were willing to look past the numbers. She has since moved to Pitman, NJ, but not because of the schools (one of Pitman's elementary schools scores a 5 on GreatSchools, while the other one, the middle school and the high school all score a 4, same as Jackson; Niche scores them higher, giving the higher-ranked elementary school, the middle school and the high school B- grades and the other two elementary schools C+ grades); she was looking for a larger house with a yard (two things she couldn't get in Passyunk Square) at a reasonable price.

I guess the reason I go on, and why I cite this one data point, is that this larger subject also fits in with my general belief that people as a whole let fear govern their decisions and actions way too much and too often. That includes this subject. The OP may still follow the advice the rest of you give, and I wouldn't hold it against him for doing so. But I'd like to at least raise his consciousness a bit. And maybe everyone else's as well.

mtairyusa.org has info on this year's Supper Sessions (now under way) up on its site. I don't know when you last visited, but I'd say it's pretty up to date.
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