I interviewed many Chicago moms in preparation for a new website that helps parents locate good schools in affordable areas, and one thing I learned is this: if a Chicago family has a child in a Chicago public school, they probably heard about the school through friends or family.
When my wife and I were searching for schools for our daughter, we heard about all of the ‘usual suspects’: Lincoln, Burley, Bell, Audubon, Coonley, and a few others. These were the schools that our friends were aware of, and although we did investigate a few additional schools on our own, we ended up moving near one of the ‘usual suspects.’ As of last September, our daughter is a very happy preschooler.
But, as it turns out, there were many other great options here in Chicago that my family didn’t even know about. I’ve done some digging and have found a few strong Chicago public schools that are located in more affordable areas of Chicago.
Here’s an example: if I search for a home in north Chicago with at least 3 bedrooms under $250,000, and I rank schools by ISAT test scores, which are the top five schools that have homes for sale right now in this price range? See Table 1 for the answer:
Table 1: The Diamonds in the Rough.
|School||Average Listing Price of Homes for Sale with at least 3 Bedrooms||Least Expensive 3 Bedroom Home for Sale (click to see listing)|
|1. Sauganash||$483,000||$185,000 minimum.|
|2. Oriole Park||$333,000||$200,000|
|5. Norwoood Park||$567,000||$250,000|
Admittedly, I do not know much about these schools other than students perform very well on standardized tests. But looking back, I wish we had investigated them before making a decision on the neighborhood school our daughter now attends. We love our current school and might have made the same choice, but certainly the five schools listed above deserved an initial look, especially given the financial implications of the drastically reduced housing costs. A year ago, I didn’t even know these options existed.
So, how do the ‘usual suspects’ compare with these diamonds in the rough?
Table 2: The Usual Suspects.
|School||Average Current Listing Price of Homes with at least 3 Bedrooms||Least Expensive 3 Bedroom Home for Sale (click link to see listing)|
Within these school boundaries, you’re paying for more than the Chicago public school, you are also paying for the lifestyle and the brand name.
So as you’re searching for a new community for you and your growing family, keep in mind that there are many possibilities out there for parents who want a wonderful home and a stellar education for their kids.
Our mission is to bring equitable school rankings to all families in the US, so that a home purchase decision can be made with a more balanced view of school quality. Today school rankings are biased towards privileged neighborhoods, and they unfairly discount schools with the socio-economic diversity. We aim to bring equity to school rankings.
So glad to see someone realizing this and sharing wealth. My husband and I started our search for a new home that zoned into a great CPS school and found the same thing – there are tons of great schools, above and beyond the few that we all know about. I’m a reseacher by profession so I’ve been creating a huge spreadsheet with tons of information but am so excited to explore your new website to learn more!
Thanks Jessy for the comment. I have an Iphone app coming out soon so you can see what school boundary you are standing in right now….could be useful for people looking at homes!