A Realtor can help parents find the best school for their family

While moving with kids might never be stress-free, a Realtor who knows the local schools can streamline the process and help solve parents’ number one question: What school in our new community is the best fit for my family?

Realtor as school search mentor
Cindy Montgomery, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Longmont, urged parents contemplating a move, whether across town or out-of-state, to “pick a Realtor in their area or city of choice.” She explained, “That Realtor will truly be your local expert on the community, schools, school programs (and) parks and rec.”

Pam Metzger, vice president of relocation and corporate services at WK Real Estate in Boulder, agreed, noting, “It helps if the Realtor has children that either currently attend or previously attended those schools or if they have other relevant knowledge, perhaps from friends, family or prior clients.”

Lisa Wade, a broker associate with the management team at RE/MAX of Boulder, added that many Realtors volunteer in education and purposefully follow the happenings of their local district. She said, “We have been through all of the changes and growth in our town and the Boulder Valley School District. We have raised our own families here, and so schools have been very important to us.”

Of course, since Realtors cannot be personally involved in every school in their corner of the market, a Realtor’s relocation department can be crucial. For example, at WK Real Estate, the relocation department creates an annual in-house school guide and assists clients with customized research and school introductions.

Research knowledgeably
Montgomery recommended narrowing the school search by researching districts and then schools online. Schoolview.org, from the Colorado Department of Education, provides a list and map of all Colorado schools along with loads of data, including testing scores and graduation, dropout, suspension and enrollment rates.

Niche.com, greatschools.org and schooldigger.com offer additional insights and reviews, as well as website-designated grades based on achievement markers, culture and diversity, parent surveys, health and safety factors and extracurriculars.

Besides for the above scores and ratings, many parents consider a school’s programs and services. Metzger is frequently asked about gifted and talented classes and resources for students with special needs. At the high school level, she said, “(Parents) want to know, ‘Does the school have a strong team and coaching staff for their child’s activity of interest?’”

For some families, neighborhood location and the ability to walk to school are high priorities, although Wade said a school’s reputation tends to rank most significant with parents.

Scheduling a school visit
Once parents are interested in a district or a few specific schools, it’s time to tour. Metzger said, “With the pandemic, most schools have not allowed in-person visits other than regularly scheduled open house events during the standard open enrollment period. Those sessions would be key for newcomer parents to attend, especially if they are not yet living here and can arrange a trip to town.” Check district and school websites for open house dates and virtual tours. If an in-person visit isn’t feasible, Metzger said, “At a minimum new families should contact the individual school offices and ask to be connected with a representative of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for first-hand information.”

Metzger said it may be helpful for out-of-state parents to schedule two trips to their area of interest. “If you can afford the time and expense of a couple of house hunting trips, do one with the kids and one without,” she suggested. “As adults, you will need uninterrupted time to decipher the neighborhoods, meet with a Realtor, see homes to buy or rent and do other fact-finding.” A follow-up trip with the kids “can help them to develop a comfort level, so they can visualize where they are going before the actual move,” she said.

Settling in and getting connected
Once the family has relocated, parents can support their children by sticking to a routine and making sure they feel safe, Wade said. She continued, “Talking openly about what changes lie ahead and letting them ask lots of questions will help.”

Finally, signing up for extracurricular activities, exploring the area as a family and seeking out volunteer opportunities are fun and positive ways to build community connections. Metzger said, “(Extracurriculars) help to shrink down what can be a large, overwhelming environment and gives them instant connections with other kids that share their interests.”

By Sarah Huber, Raised in the Rockies