Good schools are one of the many reasons that people are so attracted to this area. But understanding school scores and school boundaries can seem a bit confusing. Often buyers will tell me which school district they are looking in rather than which city. Remember that School District boundaries were developed long before city boundaries so in most cases, they are not the same.
Q: If I am looking to buy a house, how do I know which school my children will attend?
A: Most every listing will include a reference to the DISTRICT that a particular property is in but typically they don’t list the SCHOOL itself.
Q: Why not? I want to know which school they will go to.
A: Within each district, a school is assigned to each address so that theoretically, you should be able to go to the School District’s web site and search for “School Boundary Maps” and locate which school is assigned to your house.
Q: Does that mean my child will be able to go to that school?
A: Not necessarily. You are guaranteed that your child will be able to attend a school in the District but not necessarily the one that is assigned to your address. There are 2 reasons why not. 1. If your assigned school has more EG: third graders than it has room for, your recently added third grader may be sent to another school in the District that has room for more third graders. 2. While DISTRICT boundaries rarely change, the school boundaries within a district do change from time to time with the changing demographics so it is possible that the intra-district boundaries could change after you move in.
Q: What is a “Unified” School District?
A: Locally, a Unified District is one that oversees K-12 education as opposed to there being separate K-8 Elementary Districts (Think LASD and MVWD) that merge together into a separate, grades 9-12, High School District. (EG: MVLA HSD.) Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) is a good example of a Unified District.
Q: Can I transfer my child to a different school than the one that has been assigned to my house?
A: Usually not but you should always ask the District directly. Sometimes they are looking for children willing to move to another school within the district to balance class sizes.
Q: Can I transfer my child into a different District?
A: Almost always, no. There are a few exceptions to the inter-district transfer policy so you should always confirm with the 2 Districts. EG: Some parts of LAH may be allowed to choose which District their children attend, PAUSD or MVLA.
Owen Halliday is a REALTOR who manages the Sereno Group Real Estate office in downtown Los Altos. If you have a subject you’d like addressed in a future column, Owen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-492-0062.