Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What School District Is this House In???

I think that when I am at open houses I hear that question more frequently than any other...
I mean if you are a parent with children and you are considering moving into a new neighborhood what's most important to you?

1. You want to know what condition the house is in.
2. You want to know if its a 'nice', safe neighborhood.
3. You want to know if the schools are good.

I hear people ask this question all the time and I ask it all the time....guess what answer I ALWAYS get back?
'I'm not sure you'll have to check with the school district.'

Seriously WTF?

If you are a Realtor showing a house how in gods name can you not know what grade school district the house is in? It's not a black science is it?

So, for everybody out there here's links to the two main things prospective buyers are going to want to know about the schools in Alameda.

This link is for the recently published API scores.
The scores show that on the main island you want to be in either the Franklin or Edison school district. If we could afford one of those cool houses on Gibbons drive on the East End we'd move there in a second so our child could attend Edison.

Here's how I read the ranking of the alameda grade schools.
1. Amelia Earheart
2. Edison Elementary
3. Bay Farm Elementary
4. Franklin Elementary
5. Frank Otis Elementary
6. Paden Elementary
7. Donald D. Lum Elementary
8. Henry Haight Elementary
9. Ruby Bridges Elementary
10. Washington Elementary

Here's the official map of the grade school districts of the island.

To find out which school district you're in just look up your address on this map, takes all of five minutes.
We are in the Franklin School district. We are way out on the gerry-meandered outer edge of it but we are in the district! That is no accident. Before buying the Chez we checked the API scores and the district map and new we were getting a bargain on a 'contractors special', the worst house on the block but in one of the best school districts. Being in the Franklin school district was a huge plus for us. We even turned down a different house that was is the Washington district-the scores where just too disparate.

Being in Franklin now I don't know what kinda deal we'd have to be offered to move to a house in the Washington district.

But the question remains: Why do Realtors play stupid about school districts?


Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious they know it's probably not a great school zone, at least not the best? Also, how often do these things change?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a liability issue (realtor doesn't want to 'promise' a certain school that might change until the deal closes)? Also, some schools may be over-enrolled. The district borders can change and it's likely they will soon with all the AUSD funding issues.

Bryan said...

Anonymous #2 is correct. Borders can change, and the local school might be full (especially if you don't move in until late summer). Same reason that lot and house sizes are always marked "per county records". If the realtor asserts something as fact, they are liable if it turns out not to be the case. Since they have no control over school enrollment, they can't answer you affirmatively.

Now, most realtors will tell you the district and just add the caveat "buyer to confirm availability", so maybe you're just seeing a higher-than-usual percentage of weasels. But it's not as silly as it sounds.

The MadScientist said...

Hello Anon uh #1 (seriously guys how about at least a nom de plume or something so I know if I'm talking to the same person?
School districts do not change often and when they do holy-hell is raised on both sides.

Yes I think it is obvious that the Realtor knows damn well the house is in a crappy does that excuse them for playing stupid? Why do Realtors think its okay to play stupid? What do the politicians call it? Plausible Denibility? Its all B.S. Represent the home truthfully and stop yanking peoples chains!

The MadScientist said...

Okay Anon #2,
'Liability Issues' is the new code word for anybody that doesn't want to stand up and do the right thing...All the Realtor has to say is something like, 'My reading of the school maps shows that this house is in the blah blah blah district.'

Changing district borders is a HUGE,HUGE issue..won't happen without a serious fight that will make the anti-bullying flap look like a simple misunderstanding. The Gold Coast folks LIKE Franklin being a small basically private elementary for their kids.

The MadScientist said...

Bryan (finally a non-anon commenter),
See comment to #2 above. Distric maps don't get redrawn regularly and in fact its been many years since they've been tweaked.

Ya I just think most of the Realtors I've seen recently have been extra specially weaselly..Its all about that plausible deniability...The realtor might see scary asbestos insulation flaking off and becoming a real danger...but, if the buyers inspector misses it you think they're going to say a peep? Nope, and that's total horse shit.
Any Realtor thats going to claim that redoing a failing brick foundation is 'not really necessary' just cause they think its going to sour the deal should have their license pulled.

Leslie Harvey said...

I always assumed it was a liability thing too. Lawyers ruin everything for everybody.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Leslie,
Ya I know that you are kidding....
I think all kinds of fun gets quashed in the name of 'liability'.

I don't think that there are lawyers hiding in the shadows ready to spring out and sue some poor sap for what not...maybe in the 80's but not now.

Somehow the average joe/jane (who really know nothing about the realities behind what makes you legally liable) have been like cowed into wussiness by this boogey-man called liability.

You know my neices/nephews in Danville are not allowed to use the school lockers!?!?? For 'liability' reasons? Really?? WTF is that about? Those kids have to carry ALL their school books around in these ginormous backpacks....its just stupid.

I will raise holy-hell if some scared school admin tries to make my kid do that here in Alameda...

Jessamyn said...

Amazingly, they avoid the entire issue here in Asheville, NC, bussing all the kids. Yep, every single elementary school in the Asheville district is a magnet school, and you can attend whatever one you want, subject to space available and "racial balance." There's one for Arts and Humanities; Science, Mathematics, and Technologies; Global Scholars; Experiential Learning; and Human Diversity and Ecology. Traffic gets a bit slowed by buses on weekday afternoons, but it ameliorates undesirable parts of town and makes real opportunities for everybody.

We're small enough that there's just one central middle and one high school.

The "magnet school" system also really helps with people colonizing new areas, such as the artists moving into the abandoned warehouse district, since they know they're not sacrificing their kids' education to do so.

Finally, it prevents what I think of as "Ross, Marin County" syndrome, which is a school full of entitled kids in expensive districts. It's GOOD for kids to be exposed to a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Jess,
That's an interesting idea...make them all magnet schools...

Though I don't love the idea of bussing kids around.

We happen to be in the worst middle schools district.....not sure what we are going to do when its time for middle school...

Tish said...

IN sort of the same area of discussion, what is your take on Measure E?

The MadScientist said...

Hi Tish,
Measure E huh? What a hot potato that is.
My take on it is, that unfortunately Alameda has to rely less and less on state money so I think that its a required evil.
I want my kid to grow up in a school system that still has music, sports, theatre, shop classes and I will pay more for that privlage.

My neighbor says I should run for the school board to 'clean up this mess.'

Anonymous said...

You obviously do not have school age children yet. When the classes are over crowded, the school can and does move kids to another school!

irene said...

We do not have school-age children yet. We moved to a good school district in Alameda before that point because we are planners by nature.

Based on the experience of our friends whose kids had to be placed in different schools, I do not want to be in that situation. Guess which schools typically have space for kids from other districts? I'll give you a hint, it's not the high-scoring schools.

Unfortunately, the district we're in has had more students than space for years, and I expect that to continue to be the case when it's time for the little 'un to begin her studies so we most like will be in that situation soon enough.

The MadScientist said...

Its interesting ever since I've run afoul of the local realtors the incidence of insipid nit-picking comments on the blog has really picked up!

Yes with the school being full you are not gaurenteed to get in. But that does not change what school district the house is in!