Well we did it, we sold our condo! That is a whole slew of posts on its own, and we’ll get to that later, however even though I have my ear to the ground in Real Estate I too have to pop into a few open houses now and again. I bundled the kids and went out yesterday. I struck up a conversation with another Chicago mom house hunting and we of course got onto the topic of schools. I asked her if she were to buy in that particular neighborhood where would she send her child and she said the nearby magnet school would be the only option. Since I’m still navigating the ins and outs of CPS I think we both thought our kids would simply test in and we would send them there. We shared a laugh and stated we should keep giving our kids puzzles to prepare them. I started to think about this and wondered ‘was testing in all we had to do to send our child to a magnet school’? I needed answers.
I find the CPS website completely overwhelming and find that it is easier to talk to real people that have been through it. A colleague of mine is a Chicago mom and an expert on CPS schools. She has been through it herself, for her now college bound daughter and her 3rd grade son. I’ll have a detailed interview with her in another post. I asked her about her experience with magnets. Her daughter got into a magnet school and to my surprise there is no testing at all. All it is a lottery system, yup you just submit an application and cross your fingers that your child gets in. To my knowledge it is proximity to the school that is factored first, however to me there are still questions about the actual criteria CPS uses when selecting the children. From my colleagues experience it is based on zip code and demographics for the neighborhood you live in. For example, CPS could say ‘this school could use 6 kids from xx zip code and 4 from xx zip code’, however it is hard to know why.
If you apply and your child doesn’t get in, that doesn’t mean you have to give up either. You can appeal the application and fight for your child. It is a pain and you first have to submit a written appeal and if that doesn’t work you can schedule a hearing downtown and probably a lot of rigamarole, but it can be worth it, or at least try.
Magnet cluster schools will accept neighborhood kids first and then open the school to a lottery for kids that live out of the boundaries.
So if the best school in your current or potential neighborhood is a magnet school, you will want to have a fallback option just in case. Many schools have open enrollment, however a lot of these schools have blossomed over the years and the open enrollment has since closed. Check the schools websites for those options.
Also, check out one of my favorite Chicago mom blogger website for more answers to the many many questions we have about CPS. http://cpsobsessed.com/the-basics-of-cps/
So if you are house hunting keep schools in mind when you are looking. Buying in a neighborhood with a school that is already established where you just send your kids there can make your life easier and less stressful, but this can drive up the price of homes as well. Talk to your Realtor about these options, however if you don’t have one contact me for help on that front.
And remember…with a little legwork and navigating you can send your child to one of the many great public schools and continue to raise your kids in Chicago.
The Yeager Team: A Chicago Real Estate Family
We Live here, We Work Here, We Are Raising Our Kids Here