San Francisco Board of Education makes radical change that could boost your home’s value

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How’s this for good news?   Without you having to do anything, your San Francisco home’s value may have increased. And if so, you’ve got an unlikely organization to thank: the SF Board of Education.

On March 9th, the board approved a new policy for assigning students to public schools. Among the changes is the fact that a student’s proximity to a school will increase the chances he or she will be assigned to it.

For decades, the San Francisco Unified School District has used a lottery system to assign students to public schools. The lottery’s goal was to foster diversity and fairness.  But the result was that some students were assigned to public schools miles away, even though there were schools within walking distance.

The proximity of popular schools is now a selling point

Not surprisingly, the system made the proximity of good schools pretty much a non-issue to real estate buyers and sellers in San Francisco. If you were the seller, for instance, the fact that a top-rated public school was two blocks away was barely worth mentioning. The kids of prospective buyers were likely to be assigned to a school in another neighborhood.

But the new policy, scheduled to be phased in at the start of the 2011-2012 school year, will change that. If you live a few blocks from a top-rated or otherwise popular public school, your home could become more valuable to potential homebuyers.

Do your homework

So before you make a move as a buyer or seller, research which public schools in San Francisco are the best. If you’re a buyer with kids, you might want to focus your efforts on properties near the most desirable schools. Sellers, you may be able to get a better price, based on your home’s proximity to a good school.

The San Francisco Unified School District’s list of schools, which includes each school’s School Accountability Report Card (SARC) and other information, is a good place to begin your research.

Another resource is GreatSchools, headquartered in San Francisco. The organization rates schools based on a comparison of test scores compared to all schools in the same state. The site also includes reviews from parents.

The details aren’t 100 percent final yet

Not everything is set in stone, by the way. The San Francisco Unified School District is in the process of drawing up elementary school boundaries and developing a new transportation policy, among other things. The goal is to finalize the details and launch the new enrollment system on Nov. 13, 2010.

In the meantime, the Board of Education’s Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment meetings will hold a series of meetings for public input. The next is scheduled for May 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. You can learn more details on school district’s online ‘Student Assignment Redesign’ page.

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