Want to be in a New School District Next Year? It's Time to Start Looking

Want to be in a New School District Next Year? It's Time to Start Looking

Posted on Jun 13, 2024

Moving to a new area often comes with the added complication of finding the right school district for your children. If you're hoping to have your kids enrolled in a new school district at the start of the next school year, it's important to start your research and preparations ASAP.

Making a decision about which district meets your needs—and finding a home that fits your criteria in that area—can take months. Here's what to keep in mind as you move through the process.

What Matters in a School District

Obviously, academics is usually the prime consideration when evaluating school districts. Metrics like standardized test scores, graduation rates, and the percentage of students going on to further education are good data points to start with. 

Beyond broad academics, there are several other crucial factors to analyze:

  • Average class size: Class size can vary significantly between districts, so make sure the average class size at each grade level fits your preferences—especially for the grades your child will be entering. A smaller class size means more specialized attention for each student and their unique needs.
  • Available resources: Look at factors such as staffing levels, classroom technology, and transportation. You also may want to consider before school and/or after school childcare program offerings to complement your work schedule. 
  • Extracurricular offerings: Does the district offer a variety of arts, music, STEM programs, and athletics? If your child is older, where do their interests lie? For example, a STEM-focused high school may be great for future engineers but may not offer varied programs in the arts or sports.
  • Special education services: If you have children with special needs, make sure to investigate the district's special education resources, staff qualifications, and approaches.
  • District accolades: Research where the schools in your desired district fall on different rankings. For example, are they a National Blue Ribbon School? Are they recognized as a top school in your area? High-performing districts tend to better prepare students for future success.

You should also consider physically visiting the schools on your short list—many districts offer tours for prospective families. A first-hand visit can be extremely insightful to gauge everything from the physical learning environment to school culture and community feel.

Average Time for a Home to Close 

Once you identify your target districts, you'll need to start looking for homes in those areas. In a typical real estate market, it can take 2-3 months to find the right home that checks all your boxes in your desired location and budget range. For those obtaining a mortgage, it takes an average of 45 days between having your offer accepted and the actual closing date.

Realistically, it may help to start looking 5-6 months before your ideal move date—however, it is possible on a shorter time frame. Monitor new listings vigilantly during that window and be prepared to act quickly when you find a good fit. To be best prepared, you’ll want to have a pre-approval for a mortgage (or proof of funds for an all-cash offer) ready to go so you can submit an offer ASAP.

If you’re concerned about starting the new school year in your desired district but your closing date doesn’t align, it might be a good idea to look into short-term rentals in the area as a bridge. Most districts require proof of residency—such as bills to a home within the district in your name—in order for your child to enroll.

Other Points to Consider 

Beyond the school district and your timeline, there are a few other factors to weigh in on. Consider the distance you'll need to travel from your new home or workplace to the school(s) or what bussing is available. Especially for younger kids, minimizing ride time can reduce stress as compared to a long commute.

If you plan to enroll your kids in a new district for the upcoming school year, be aware that many districts have open enrollment periods that close as far out as months before classes start up in the fall. Applying for enrollment is a critical step, so mark any deadlines on your calendar—and call your desired district ASAP if you’ve missed any important dates.

When it comes to transitioning your kids to a new district, there are clear advantages to doing so over summer break instead of mid-school year. They won't need to switch to a new district overnight, teachers and curricula will be new for everyone at the beginning of the year, and they can start making new friends in their classroom right away.

If your goal is to position your family in an ideal district for the next school year, start your planning and home search process ASAP. With some patience and perseverance, it’s possible get situated in your chosen district in time for the fall.

Prepare Yourself, But Keep Level-headed 

Changing school districts is a big decision that requires thorough research and preparation. By getting an early start, you'll improve your chances of finding the right fit and getting your kids enrolled before next year's classes begin.

If you’re not able to complete your move by the first day of school, its not the end of the world. There’s rarely a “perfect” time for anyone to move but with preparation, you’ll give yourself and your family the best chance at success.

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