August 9, 2016 - From the Blog
By Live Baltimore's Resident Outreach Manager, Kim Wiggins
As Live Baltimore's Resident Outreach Manager and face of the Way to Stay program, I answer questions for a lot of Baltimore City families. When I began in my role, last September, I assumed most of those families would have children approaching school age. To my surprise, I noticed a different trend:
Most families with questions about Baltimore City Schools have infants—or are expecting. For these pragmatic planners, I've put together the following age-by-age guide. I hope it helps YOU as you imagine your future in Baltimore!
You’re having a baby. Congratulations! Seek out other families in your neighborhood who are expecting. (There may already be a family group in your area.) Start to support each other now. It will be good to know you aren’t the only one who is sleep deprived in the coming months.
0-1 years old
OMG. You are so happy with this bundle of joy and you are soooo tired. Good thing there are so many other people with babies who understand why you haven’t showered in days. At this point in time, family, friends, and people you don’t even know may approach you, look at your baby and say "I guess you will have to leave the city soon." Tell them you love the city, you love your neighbors and you know you don’t have to leave. In fact, you can’t wait until your baby is old enough to enjoy the city (and sleep).
2-3 years old
It’s early, but if you're thinking about private school education you should start to look two years before entry. Go to open houses. (They start in the fall.) You may be worried about tuition, but if you are already paying for daycare, you may not notice too much of a difference in your family's budget. Additionally, financial aid for private schools isn’t just for low income families. The average income of financial aid at many private schools is in the low six figures.
This is also a good time to start to volunteer at your neighborhood school. (You don’t have to have a child that attends to get involved.) Volunteering will help you start to get a feel for the school, get to know some parents, and see if it might be right for your child. You and the other new parents in the neighborhood could decide to send your kids to the neighborhood school. This option would definitely make for an easy school commute!
The most important thing in this stage is DON’T PANIC!!! People may try to convince you to sell your house and move to the burbs because "all the schools are good in the burbs" or "all the schools in the city are bad." Don’t believe them. You have many great options in the city and many people (including us at Live Baltimore) to help you find them.
4-5 years old
This is where it gets interesting. Now that bundle of joy is really their own person (or at least that is how they act). Daycare has been fun, but it is time to go to school. How do you find the right school? There are many resources to consult, but the one you should ABSOLUTELY NOT base your opinions off is GreatSchools.org. This website only uses standardized test scores (and grades on a curve, making most schools score lower than expected). Your child is more than a test score. Here's how we suggest you get beyond a bogus rating system and find the right place for your kiddo:
- Check out your local school. That's right...visit in person!
- Check out schools outside of your zone. You may pass a great school on your way to work with room for your child!
- Enter the lottery for charter schools. (There is no limit on the number of schools you apply to. But make sure it is easy for you to get to the school if you get in!)
- Apply to private schools if you haven't already.
- Move to your desired Baltimore City school zone. (Some Baltimore City Schools are in high demand and only accept students who live within their zone. If your heart is set on one of these schools, it may be time to move to the zone.)
Beware, this is the time that the “leave the city” choirs will be as loud and consistent as the 17 year locust.
Don’t panic, Live Baltimore’s Way to Stay program is here to help. Keep your eyes on our events page to join us at a social or other family-friendly outing. And don't be afraid to reach out with questions.
Find our more about our Way to Stay program.