This article was updated Fall 2018
FINDING THE BEST SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILD
When a family with school-age children is moving, a couple critical questions stand out as they search for their new home: 1) Is it a safe place? and 2) Are the schools good?. Discovering and becoming familiar with new school systems can be confusing and overwhelming, however, it is extremely important.
We were a military family for 21 years and as a result moved many times. Each time we moved, as a mom, the two questions of safety and school quality were front and center in my mind. In short: I can relate. Since the writing of this post, we have retired and two of my three children graduated. Even though I am past the “finding a new school system” stage of my life, the stresses of moving and the school/property searches still remain with me.
Now that I am a real estate agent and have personally walked this road a few times, I have assembled some resources just for YOU, the concerned parent!
A school choice is a personal, individual decision. What might be great for some families is not acceptable for others. I recommend asking around your neighborhood if you’ve already moved into a house, or ask the neighbors in the neighborhood that you are planning moving into. Brainstorm with friends, talk to the district, the principal, discover alternative options, and then determine what is best for your family. I am very happy to say that there are plenty of choices for your child’s education in Colorado Springs. Colorado and the city of Colorado Springs are extremely family-friendly in regard to education. They highly respect your choice of the type of education that best suits your child. From homeschooling to private and charter schools, to top-ranking public schools, we have the blessing of so many choices at our fingertips.
A good first step is to visit the website of the Colorado Department of Education to explore your options and learn the laws. It contains a wealth of information. Below I have compiled a list of types of schools in general, most types are available in Colorado.
TYPES OF SCHOOLS:
- Public school within your school district
- Public school outside your school district (Choice-in programs)
- Charter school
- Magnet school
- Private school
- Virtual school
- Instruct at home / homeschool
1. Public School within your School District
Your child can, of course, attend the schools within the school district of your residence. This is probably the simplest solution and Colorado Springs boasts high-ranking public school districts. Even within the district, you will find numerous specialty options. Contact your local school district administration to discover all these choices. They love to work with their families! For those that are interested, here is a link to 2016-2017 Title I schools, that have been identified by the state for school improvement. Only two schools in Colorado Springs in all the districts were found. An important note: because of the Choice program (see below), popular schools often reach capacity. This means that when you move into a particular neighborhood you are guaranteed a spot in your assigned district, but necessarily your assigned neighborhood school. If your neighborhood school is full, the district will find space for your student at another school within the district. Additional information:
- Supplemental Educational Service website
- Colorado School District Rankings
- Colorado Springs School Ranks, Stats, and Reviews website.
Links to School Districts in Colorado Springs (map here):
- Cheyenne Mountain D12
- Falcon School D49
- Harrison Schools D2
- Widefield D3
- Manitou Springs D14
- Lewis-Palmer D38
2. Public School in another School District
One of the benefits of the Colorado Springs school system is the Choice Program. Some districts let you transfer to a different school, provided that the school of your choice has space for out-of-district students. The decision to Choice-In is made by each school and can differ wildly – from first-come, first-served or a lottery. For more information:
- D20 Choice Information
- D11 Choice Guidelines
- District 49 Choice Guidelines
- Public School Choice Guidance MS Word (958KB) | PDF (304KB)
- Voluntary Public School Choice Program
- Giving Parent Options
- Innovations in Education: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs
3. Charter School
Nationally, there are about 3,000 charter schools. Charter schools are public schools that operate with freedom from many of the local and state regulations that apply to traditional public schools. Charter schools may include grades K-12 or any combination, and can have areas of specialization, such as music or technology. They are free as they receive funding through the state and slots for students are limited. Admission to the schools usually require a few years on a waiting list, however, students cannot be denied acceptance based on race, religion, sex or test scores. Are charter schools better than public schools? It simply depends on what you are looking for. Even charter schools have mixed performance in state tests. That said, some statistics seem to suggest that charter schools have improved weaker students’ scores faster than their public counterparts. Again, research is absolutely necessary. For more information:
- Charter schools in Colorado Springs
- Charter schools throughout the country
- Charter Schools Grant Program
- Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Grant Program
- State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grant Program
- Innovations in Education: Successful Charter Schools
- Best elementary school Charter Schools in Colorado Springs
- Best middle school Charter Schools in Colorado Springs
4. Magnet School
Magnet schools differ from Charter schools in that they remain part of the public school system and operate under the same public school administration. Magnet schools usually have alternative or otherwise compelling modes of instruction. For example, you might find a Montessori magnet school. They receive more funding than public schools and can, therefore, spend more money on students and programs. For more information:
- Colorado Magnet Schools
- Magnet Schools of America
- Magnet Schools Assistance Grant Program
- Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet Schools Programs
5. Private School
When looking at public or private schools, the following factors come into play:
- Academic reputation and college preparation
- School size and Class size
- Safety reputation
- Special programs
- Religious and Moral instruction
Biggest difference: Money and time requirements. You WILL have to pay and you will most likely be required to volunteer your time. Colorado Springs has numerous private schools to choose from. Ask around or check public forums for more information. Two private schools are the westside of town are University School of Colorado Springs and The Colorado Springs School. There are many more but these are two to get you started on your research.
- Private Schools in Colorado Springs
- Office of Non-Public Education
- Participation of children enrolled in private schools
- Council for American Private Education
6. Virtual schools
DoDEA (Dept. of Education Activity) offers virtual high schools for qualifying dependents of military families. K12 and Connectionsacademy.com are two examples of free public school online for anyone. Whether your child is gifted and your local public school is not providing services for your child, your child is differently-abled and your school does not provide the support you are comfortable with, or an illness prevents your child from going to school, it’s good to know that the option is there for you.
There is a very large homeschool community in Colorado Springs that works together to provide unparalleled education for their children. In addition, most of the school districts are homeschool-friendly and offer their own free resources and classes should you choose to go this route. D20 offers the Home School Academy and High Country Home Educators provides an amazing program. There are multiple resources out there to assist you should you choose this option.
I am glad you have chosen to make Colorado Springs your new home and would love to answer any questions you may have. Contact me at email@example.com to set up a free consultation. In the meantime I have provided additional links below that may assist you in your search for the right school choice for your family:
Click here => Special Needs Transition Program Information
|Find public schools and school districts in your city and state. GO >|
|Schools, Colleges, and Libraries|
|Find public or private schools, colleges, or public libraries in your city and state. GO >|
|State-by-state information on charter schools.
For information on No Child Left Behind and the U.S. Department of Education, call toll-free at 1-800-USA-LEARN. Or check the first two Web sites given below. No Child Left Behind www.ed.gov/nclb/ U.S.Department of Education www.ed.gov The White House www.whitehouse.gov
State and Local Resources
To locate a State Education Agency: nces.ed.gov/ccd/ Note: The State Education Agency Web site should also provide links to local education agencies’ Web sites. To locate a particular school, use the Nation-wide School Locator: nces.ed.gov/globallocator/
Adequate Yearly Progress www.ed.gov/nclb/accountability/ayp/yearly.html Accountability www.ed.gov/nclb/accountability/schools/accountability.html
“Education News Parents Can Use” www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/index.html
National Education Groups
These links are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to imply an endorsement of the sponsoring organization or particular content contained on individual sites.
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