Homebuyer Homework

Moving for the sake of school

School's out for summer and if you're a proactive parent, you're already packing and plan to be settled in your new home before school starts this fall.

"The right time to move so your child can attend a new school is when their current school lets out," says Beverly Gates, a real estate agent at Century 21 Beyond 2000 in Parma Heights. "That way, your child can make friends in the new neighborhood before he or she boards the school bus come fall."

For these and other reasons, says Gates, parents should start planning a move when they pack away the winter holiday decorations.

"And when you get your first box of Valentine's Day candy, you should be putting your own house on the market," she says. "This gives you a better chance of selling your home so you can buy the new one before the school year ends."

In contrast, Jolyn Brown says it's not always a bad thing when families must relocate during a semester.

"When kids have the opportunity to establish friendships at their new school in the middle of the school year, by summer, they'll already have friends in their new neighborhood," says Brown, who manages the Strongsville office of Prudential Preferred Properties.

"Depending on their age, it's also good idea to take your children to visit the school they'll be attending before they enroll," she adds.

In either scenario, several factors should be considered before moving to a community served by a particular school system. Academic, recreational and extracurricular offerings are key.

"Children today are pretty savvy about where they want to live and go to school, and parents should take into account the importance of their child's needs and wants," says Brown.

For example, does your child want to be involved in sports or a marching band? Does the school have a swim team for your aspiring medalist? Is your child intrigued by the arts? What languages does your student wish to learn?

What about transportation? Are students bused, and if so, what's the commute time? If your child will walk or if you'll provide transport, how far away is the school?

Other considerations are after-school activities, daycare, preschool, summer camps and even community recreation centers that enable children to make friends in their new neighborhood.

"It's hard for children to move, so you want to give them as many advantages as possible," Gates says.

On that note, Gates points out that in neighborhoods zoned for multi-family dwellings, homeowners — not renters — bear the brunt of paying taxes for the community's school system. And when there isn't enough of a tax base to support school programs, students ultimately suffer.

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