Things to Consider When Choosing a School District

Micah is headed to kindergarten in the Fall…  

To say that I’m freaking out would be an understatement…I am completely losing my mind! A lot of it is because I want to make sure that I’m making the best choices for Micah.  I want to make sure that I’ve made the right choice in the school district that he will be attending.

As I moved around quite a bit when I was younger (especially during high school) and lost the opportunity to make some long-standing friendships, I want to stay still when it comes to Micah.  I would like to find the right school district, and stay put if at all possible.

So I have until the end of March to decide…do we stay in our town and have Micah attend this school district? OR do we make the move now before he starts?

I’ve done quite a bit of research, and I’m still deciding on what to do.  But based on this research, I have tons of information to share with you in the case that you’re going through the same thing!

Need To-Haves

Consider what your school district (or individual schools) of choice needs to have.  Should they have a smaller teacher-to-student ratio? Should they offer music and/or extensive math or science programs? Should they have a culturally diverse student population or curriculum? What are the need to-haves – really consider this before selecting a school district.

School District Rankings

The best way to start is to see how your school district ranks, and which districts are most fitting of you and your child’s needs.

  • My favorite school ranking site is Niche, which provides ranking for K-12 schools and school districts. Niche offers some great reviews and rankings for schools across the country, and even ranks schools in a particular state. Niche offers rankings based on academics, administration and policies, educational outcomes, extracurriculars, food, health & safety, resources & facilities, sports & fitness, student culture & diversity, and teachers.  This was very helpful in my process of choosing a school district for Micah, as I didn’t want to send him to the best school in the state, but neither did I want to send him to the worst.
  • is another great option. The ratings on is focused on comparing schools based on test scores, student academic growth, and college readiness.
  • ranks school districts across the US by comparing the math and reading achievement levels of the average student in each district compared with 25 other developed nations.

School Types

Do you want to send your child to public school or private school? This is a huge question to ask yourself when selecting a school district.  Many people focus on the affordability of houses in the area; however, there is a high likelihood that the school district may not be up to snuff with what you’re looking for.  Therefore, you have to consider private schools, which can become quite expensive.  Take the time to consider what would be best for you and your child, and consider if your goals will be accomplished in a public or private school.

Before- and After-School Care

If you’re a full-time working parent as I am, you need to be able to identify appropriate before- and after-school care.  A couple of things to consider when selecting care:

  • Is the care available on school grounds? If so, will care be available when school is closed or delayed?
  • If care is not available on school grounds, then will a bus be available to take your child to and from school?
  • What time is care available for before- and after-school care?
  • Is homework assistance, tutoring, etc. available in this care setting?
  • What are the costs? And what does the costs cover?

School Tours

Micah and I are going to start the school tour route this month.  Many schools, whether public or private, offer school tours so that you have a better understanding of what to expect in the school.  Talk to some of the teachers in different grades, and see if you can speak with some of the parents.  Whereas the teachers may only have positive remarks, the parents are definitely going to be more honest.

In addition to checking out the individual school, consider visiting the town’s board of education.  Gain a better understanding of how the funding for schools are distributed, the importance of education to the superintendent of schools, and how the community rallies around the children and the schools.  This may be a tricky aspect, as it is difficult to meet with them, but I have already scheduled time with the superintendent in my town and they were eager to meet with me.  This is definitely a good sign.

As I mentioned, I am still trying to decide what to do…but I know that I am headed in the right direction.  So far, my town is ranking pretty high overall – but before I make my final decision, I have to consider the above and more!

How did you decide which school district (or school) that your child would attend? Share in the comments below!

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