Houston is Different #5 – Choosing Great Schools

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the seventh-largest school district in the country and the largest in Texas. With 288 schools, 13,000 teachers and over 210,000 students, HISD provides many educational choices. Compared with other urban districts such as New York and Los Angeles, we have few security issues. Academically some of our campuses rank among the top public schools in the nation. But each child is unique, and the sheer number of choices may make it difficult for parents to find the best fit for their children.

School Taxes

Grant-writing and PTA bake sales may help, but Texas schools are overwhelmingly funded by property taxes. Out-of-state buyers may note our higher property tax rates. But higher rates on properties are counter-balanced by the complete lack of a state income tax. Our total tax burden is low in comparison to the rest of the country; typically Texas ranks 45-47 in the nation. Homestead exemptions can also help minimize the tax bite.

Zoned Schools

Each home in HISD is assigned to an elementary, middle, and high school. School zone maps are complicated and do not necessarily follow neighborhood boundaries. If a school is over-crowded or capped, an incoming child can be assigned to a completely different school. Houston home buyers must verify their zoned school and the availability of space in that school. Even buyers without children should watch this issue because high-performing zoned schools (particularly elementary schools) can affect real estate resale prices.

Magnet Schools

A second option for students is to attend a Magnet school. Each participating Magnet school hosts a special program, supported by federal Funding. Programs may include fine arts, languages, math and science, health professions, etc. If you want an immersion program in Mandarin Chinese, we’ve got it. Ditto for Suzuki violin. Or Robotics. The process of researching the various schools and their programs can be time-consuming.

Pre-schools and Private Schools

If none of the public choices suit your family, Houston parents also have great private schools from which to choose. Let Roger Martin Properties Help You. Our agents appreciate the individuality of every child, and we can share our experiences and those of our clients. We understand how good schools can affect both real estate and your family.

School Resources

Texas Education Agency – Texas Education Agency (TEA) is the state agency responsible for schools and curriculum.  Its official website includes standardized testing results (TAKS and STAAR) for each school.

Houston Independent School District – The official website of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) provides several tools for parents, including:

  • School Zone Search Tool – Houstonisd.org/_findaschool
  • School Profiles – Houstonisd.org/Page/38525 Program descriptions, demographics, student performance statistics, and links to the TEA reports.
  • Magnet School Application – Houstonisd.org/Page/120695 Tours are usually available in the fall. Some schools use a lottery system to select among their many applicants; other schools require a special entrance exam or audition.

Children At Risk – An independent organization that publishes an annual comparison of Houston school campuses.

K12.niche.com – An independent organization that ranks and reviews public schools.

GreatSchools.org – Provides information on public and private schools.

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