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School boundaries: you can’t see them, you don't know when you've crossed them and they don't always make sense geographically. But school boundaries can make or break a child's education, drive up the price of housing by tens of thousands of dollars and bring controversy to communities. The local news is full of stories about redrawn school district and school attendance lines and their effect on families and homeowners - and we'd like to discuss just a few in this post.

What Are School Boundaries?

Before we look at some common problems with school boundaries, let's define our terms. School districts are the basic units

Problem: Bought House Under Old Boundaries

The Dallas News Frisco Blog reported community complaints over frequent school rezoning plans, which officials say are necessary because of the high population growth in the area.

Some asked why Frisco officials don’t tell families upfront when buying a house that they likely will be rezoned and not attend the school originally zoned to that neighborhood.

 

Problem: Housing in Top Performing School Zones Too Expensive

The New York Times piece "Paying Top Dollar in a Top School District" examines the price of housing in Chappaqua, New York, and the confusion caused by non-intuitive school boundaries.

When it comes to buying a home in Chappaqua, the assessor cautioned, buyers should check first with his office to make sure that the property in question is indeed located within the Chappaqua Central School District. "People are paying these kinds of prices for real estate because of the schools, not just the scenery," he said. Mr. McGrory recalled a recent story about buyers who thought they would have access to the Chappaqua schools and found out they did not. "It caused quite a brouhaha," he said. Local school districts in the New Castle area . . . do not necessarily have the same lines as municipal boundary lines, he explained.

In Connecticut, reports the Huffington Post, Tanya McDowell was sent to prison for enrolling her son in a school from a neighboring district. She was accused of essentially "stealing" an education for her child.

McDowell, who was homeless, was accused of felony larceny by authorities who said she sent her child to a stronger school in Norwalk, instead of the one she was zoned to in Bridgeport, her last permanent address. "Who would have thought that wanting a good education for my son would put me in this predicament?" McDowell said in court.

 

Problem: Reassigned School Not As Strong

According to the Press-Enterprise, parents in Hemet, California, are frustrated that some kids are being sent to a lower performing school after SAZ lines were redrawn.

Parents say their main concern is the disparity in test scores between the schools. Harmony ranked among the highest scoring Hemet Unified schools on the most recent Academic Performance Index. Winchester was near the bottom.

Problem: New School Boundaries Erode "Neighborhood" Feel

In Johnston, Iowa, residents raised concerns that redrawn school boundaries threatened the neighborhood quality of their schools, reported the Des-Moines Register.

The draft plan [for rezoning] breaks the district into geography that doesn’t make sense and takes away the "neighborhood" feel to some of the schools, Knudsen said. "Our kids will have to pass over two other elementary schools to get to Wallace," he said. "We feel like the plan is taking us away from that neighborhood feel.”

 

Rely on School Boundaries from Maponics

Problems with school boundaries have a ripple effect on local education, real estate and politics, as well as people's major life decisions. Because of the impact they have on multiple levels, we keep our School Boundaries product as current as possible, with continuous, rolling updates. We also source our school boundaries in-house so we can ensure the highest quality. Maponics School Boundaries dataset is used by the top real estate websites - brands such as Zillow, Trulia and GreatSchools. Our Context School Rankings, which sync perfectly with our School Boundaries, provide statewide performance details, average math and reading test scores and much more. Contact us today to learn more about Maponics School Boundaries.