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Old 04-30-2012, 12:13 AM
 
34 posts, read 91,295 times
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Looking at moving in about a year and work for us will be in Chesterfield. After browsing through St. Charles/St. Peters stuff online I've concluded that we want to stay south of the river and I've been looking at Wildwood, Chesterfield, Creve Couer and Olivette. Our budget maxes out at around 475 or so, which should buy a good family house in all of those areas. Just wondering -- is there really that much difference between those three school districts? I know that Rockwood's most recent bond issue was voted down -- does that spell trouble for the school district or not?
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:12 AM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
4,009 posts, read 6,826,158 times
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South of the River? Do you mean South of the Confluence?

Just say you want to live in "West County", St. Louisans don't say South of the River... (because it's East of the Missouri and West of the Mississippi technically speaking)... sorry don't mean to hate... just giving you a heads up on that one!

As far as school districts go, to my knowledge Ladue has always been one of the top performers in the St. Louis region. Parkway is also considered good. I honestly haven't heard much about Rockwood but according to SchoolDigger.com - School Rankings, Reviews and More - Public and Private Elementary, Middle, High Schools they're ranked significantly lower than Ladue and Parkway. Lindbergh school district is one of the top performers but is in South County (Sunset Hills, Crestwood area), so that may also be a consideration for you.

I'm sorry I have no idea what is going on with Rockwood right now, hopefully someone else on this board will be able to help you with that!

With your budget you'll DEFINITELY be able to find a great house in St. Louis, in a good area.

Best of luck and I hope you and your family LOVE living in St. Louis!

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:34 AM
 
787 posts, read 1,405,489 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clementine.jones View Post
Looking at moving in about a year and work for us will be in Chesterfield. After browsing through St. Charles/St. Peters stuff online I've concluded that we want to stay south of the river and I've been looking at Wildwood, Chesterfield, Creve Couer and Olivette. Our budget maxes out at around 475 or so, which should buy a good family house in all of those areas. Just wondering -- is there really that much difference between those three school districts? I know that Rockwood's most recent bond issue was voted down -- does that spell trouble for the school district or not?
All of the school districts that you're looking in are great. They're middle - upper middle class suburbs and as suburbs go, they do their job, i.e., they're great for raising kids.

My spouse and I raised our kids in unincorporated STL County and they graduated from Parkway West High. They received an excellent education and are in college now. With our younger daughter she particularly lucked out by attending Parkway West High because of the incredible visual arts faculty. They were PHENOMENAL. Kids were/are graduating from PWH with substantial scholarship $$ to the top art schools in the country. Our daughter is attending Kansas City Art Institute on a nearly full ride, otherwise, she wouldn't be there. So, for example, if you have a budding artist, consider the *West* area of Parkway.

One other example is music. If we had had a kid who played a string instrument, we would have moved into the *Central* area of Parkway, starting with Shenandoah Valley Elementary. The faculty from elementary through high school is superior to Ladue and Rockwood. Or we would have landed in Kirkwood because of strings education. Full disclosure: I am a strings educator and know the STL area in and out.

I know the bond issue is in effect, going to cripple the strings education in Rockwood, because it forced big cuts to the strings program. For those of you who may feel that cutting strings programs isn't a big deal, you are wrong.** If Rockwood kills the strings program, there will be a discernible, albeit, small, population shift, i.e., the Asian community will begin to steer away from buying in the Rockwood school district.

Strings education and high scholastic achievement go hand in hand. Where you have an excellent, established strings program, you have a high population of Asian/Southeast Asian families. This is particularly true of Parkway Central. Asian families move to the Central area of Parkway because of the strength of the strings program. And the parents demand top notch academic offerings. Bond issues get passed more easily in the whole of Parkway, not just because of the Asian population, but overall, there seems to be more of a recognition in Parkway that, if you vote for a small tax increase, the schools will continue to be excellent. Duh. It's a no brainer in my mind.
Bond Issue Progress

Although the Ladue strings program isn't as strong as Parkway, just that fact that you have a very wealthy, educated population present supports the school district.

**The Asian population is "overrepresented" when it comes to strings education, i.e., there are a ton of Asian kids playing string instruments all over the world. Just go to a Washington University Orchestra concert sometime next year. It's mostly Asian kids who are excellent players, none of them majoring in music performance, rather, they're engineering, pre-med, pre-law, business majors. No one goes to WU undergraduate school to solely major in instrumental performance, but there are some amazing players, some of who could've gone to Juilliard, etc. The Asian string playing kids from Parkway in general consistently land at the top academic universities.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 31,476,475 times
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If you're looking for something upscale and suburban with good schools and will be working in Chesterfield, just find a place as close to work as you can -- there are few discernable differences between the schools. I have known kids who went to Rockwood but I don't know enough about their current budget situation to give any advice. I do worry about places when citizens start voting down their bond issues though ...
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:44 AM
 
Location: St Louis County (63117)
321 posts, read 998,493 times
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Wow, inahandbasket, that is quite an impressive write up! I was going to respond about my knowledge about Ladue and their orchestra program, but I am not sure how much "insider" knowledge I should really disclose. I just attended the Ladue High Orchestra concert a few weeks ago where the upper orchestra performed pretty phenomenally and, yes, it is heavily populated with Asian students. I read through the list of where the 20 graduating seniors in the orchestra were headed for college and I noticed 5 of them (25%) were headed here to Wash U. Another was going to Yale, one to Emory and a couple to the U of Chicago. It was a pretty impressive list.

One big difference between Ladue and Parkway/Rockwood is the age of the schools. Both Ladue Horton Watkins High and the Middle School are pretty old, but they have been updated over the decades by various add on projects, with the latest being the replacement of the pool in the middle school with a new classroom wing, and a new performing arts center for the high school (it is really nice too!). Both the middle and high schools are currently growing in enrollment, and with the economic downturn a new tax increase was needed and was placed on the ballot in April. Despite a small but vocal opposition group our tax rate increase passed unlike the Rockwood bond issue that failed.

I know some Rockwood residents had complained since they had passed a bond issue there just two years ago and now their school board had wanted another one. In Ladue we also passed a bond issue in 2010, but this time our tax rate increase was for operating expenses which had not increased for a long time.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 31,476,475 times
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^I'd imagine it's generally far easier to pass a bond issue than a tax increase, so I give Ladue residents (or 52% of them anyway) a lot of credit, and I was very pleased to see that Ladue was able to get what was needed done. The effect of not doing so would have been great, but the district should now be on far more firm funding ground going forward.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:31 AM
 
787 posts, read 1,405,489 times
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Originally Posted by wustu87 View Post
Wow, inahandbasket, that is quite an impressive write up! I was going to respond about my knowledge about Ladue and their orchestra program, but I am not sure how much "insider" knowledge I should really disclose. I just attended the Ladue High Orchestra concert a few weeks ago where the upper orchestra performed pretty phenomenally and, yes, it is heavily populated with Asian students. I read through the list of where the 20 graduating seniors in the orchestra were headed for college and I noticed 5 of them (25%) were headed here to Wash U. Another was going to Yale, one to Emory and a couple to the U of Chicago. It was a pretty impressive list.

One big difference between Ladue and Parkway/Rockwood is the age of the schools. Both Ladue Horton Watkins High and the Middle School are pretty old, but they have been updated over the decades by various add on projects, with the latest being the replacement of the pool in the middle school with a new classroom wing, and a new performing arts center for the high school (it is really nice too!). Both the middle and high schools are currently growing in enrollment, and with the economic downturn a new tax increase was needed and was placed on the ballot in April. Despite a small but vocal opposition group our tax rate increase passed unlike the Rockwood bond issue that failed.

I know some Rockwood residents had complained since they had passed a bond issue there just two years ago and now their school board had wanted another one. In Ladue we also passed a bond issue in 2010, but this time our tax rate increase was for operating expenses which had not increased for a long time.
Hey, not meaning to ruffle any feathers. Ladue High strings are very good. I know MANY of the string players. They've played in my orchestra as little kids. Parkway Central High Symphonic Orchestra (the top one) has consistently won state competitions, the director has presented seminars at national and international string educator conferences every year for the past twenty-odd years, blah, blah, blah.

The other component is having an excellent private lesson teacher outside of school, which all of the top students at any level/school have, otherwise, they simply wouldn't be able to keep up.

The differences between Parkway Central High, Kirkwood High and Ladue High strings programs are small; it's all good.

From my perspective (my profession of being a strings teacher/orchestra director at a community music school in STL county) I would recommend Parkway Central High.

That's all.
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:44 PM
 
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I have a friend whose kids all went to Parkway Central and she swears by the Jazz program there - says it is top notch and nationally recognized.

The most obvious difference between the three is their proximity to center city, St. Louis.

Rockwood is a mix of suburban and exurban, with some far reaches being rural. I would guess that Rockwood has the most socially conservative parent base of the three - a pretty staunchly republican territory out there where St. Louis county borders Franklin and Jefferson counties. I'm making a sweeping generalization here, but I would imagine the district over-indexes on presence of Tea Party sympathizers (case in point would be the failure of the school bond passage).

Parkway is as suburban as it gets. Its closer to the city than Rockwood by and large, but it is still kind of a hike by urban dweller standards. Socially and fiscally probably still considered somewhat conservative, but it is clearly a middle of the road kind of place politically with mostly moderate residents. There's more money there overall, and a higher concentration of snobs than in Rockwood, which tends to be unpretentious. There is some diversity in the Parkway schools, or so I have heard, with a good mix of international students.

Ladue is closest to the city of the 3, and much smaller than either of the other two. Some folks consider Ladue an inner-ring suburb. It is much easier to get to some of the places that people like to go around the city from Ladue than the other two districts (Clayton as well as some of the nice neighborhoods in St. Louis city). Unlike the other two districts, Ladue does not bus in city students, so diversity from a black and white standpoint is pretty weak. While certain parts of Parkway are way expensive and pretty snobby, I'd say the elites in Ladue are snobbier. You can find a house in the district for 475, but if you need something newer with a walkout basement and a little extra room, you'll do way better in Parkway.

So it kind of depends on your tastes. All 3 districts will provide your children with great education.
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:58 PM
 
34 posts, read 91,295 times
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Thank you for all of the input everyone. I am so excited to hear about the art and music programs. Our current district (not in Missouri) does not have art teachers at the elementary level. There is one traveling art teacher for the elementary schools and she comes in twice a year -- once in the fall and once in the spring. She only spends 90 minutes with the kids each time. I'm a big believer that art, music, exercise, academics, etc. are all related and I want my kids to be well-rounded.

Inahandbasket -- my oldest is in first grade -- when could she start taking violin lessons with a private instructor? Could she do it now? She enjoys listening to classical musical immensely, and strumming an old garage sale guitar that we got her, but we've never gotten her into lessons.

My daughter really enjoys swimming and has a knack for it -- any schools with particularly strong swim teams?

Zach, thanks for the political breakdown. We are not Tea Party people by any means. (But we can get along with almost anyone)

I do love Webster and Kirkwood ... lots of beautiful old homes and very walkable neighborhoods. I'd rather stay a little closer to the Chesterfield Parkway, though.
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:15 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
30,585 posts, read 24,927,066 times
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Default Wildwood is a nice town

I live in Wildwood. My kids went to Rockwood Schools, and I thought they got a good education. I was happy because the district gives kids so many choices.

The district is going through a rough patch now, but I think highly of the professionalism of the teachers.

Wildwood has nice subdivisions, and it also has homes on acreage. Our prices are reasonable, and you should be able to find something that suits you.There are several walking trails in our city. Our parks system (as indeed our city is) is young, but developing. And, we have Rockwood Reservation and Babler State Park in our boundaries.

I find it hard to get a good meal here, but the neighborhoods are safe, and the city seems to be well managed. Wildwood is an exurb. If that is the lifestyle you crave, then you would be happy here.
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