By Taffney Wilson
As a former teacher and now Realtor, I am often asked for advice on choosing the right school district for my client’s and friend’s children. I believe different school districts in the Dallas-area offer different things and they don’t always appeal to everyone in the same manner.
For example, Allen ISD, has a “one high school” philosophy. This gives each student access to all the academic and extracurricular programs offered by the district. There is a wide variety of top-notch extracurricular and athletic programs, with over 40 student clubs for a variety of academic interests, hobbies, and religious and cultural identities. Allen has also opened a new “Freshman Center,” a separate school for incoming 9th graders, as well as a new STEAM center. However, Allen’s graduating classes are soaring over 1,500 students and continuing to steadily grow. Many parents are fleeing to different school districts or nearby private schools in fear that the size may be overwhelming or too competitive for their children to compete and be noticed in academics, sports, and the arts.
Frisco, on the other hand, has a very different philosophy. They believe in keeping their schools small; their goal is to keep all their high schools 5A. “It’s our business to know every kid by name and need,” said Rick Reedy, the district’s former longtime superintendent. Frisco ISD is among the fastest growing school districts in the nation, with more than 56,000 students enrolled in 9 high schools, 16 middle schools, 40 elementary schools and 3 special programs centers (www.friscoisd.org). However, some may argue that smaller high schools limit the number of activities available at each campus and may stretch the school district’s budget.
Lovejoy ISD is a smaller school district with just over 4,000 K-12 students. Like Frisco, Lovejoy is categorized as a 5A school district. Lovejoy plans to remain a district with only one high school with its total 9-12th grade enrollment not to exceed 1,900 students. Lovejoy students used to attend Allen High School; its first senior class graduated in 2010. Many students have since left Allen to attend Lovejoy. Students outside of Lovejoy ISD can attend the district’s schools for $10,000 per student per year (www.lovejoyisd.net).
In most districts attendance zones are in place to determine where students will attend school. Garland does it differently by employing a “Choice of School” program which allows parents to select the campus they want their children to attend for the next school year. Parents must apply during a 30-day period. Although their goal is to grant everyone’s choice, various factors play a role in the outcome of matching students with campuses.
As you can see there are many factors to consider when choosing a Dallas-area school district for your child. Each district has something different to offer. As a former teacher and now realtor, my final advice would be to do your own research, check websites, read reviews and be sure to tour the schools you are considering!