This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Override Fact of the Day: Property Values

It is a widely held belief that there is a direct relationship between the quality of a community's schools and the property values of that community. When couples buying their first home start to research different towns or cities, that is usually one of the first things they look at.

According to Yes! for Beverly, the National Association of Realtors has published a study concluding that good schools drive better housing prices. Strong schools draw businesses and families to the community, increasing the city’s tax base and protecting property values. The NAR realtors training manual states:

“There is solid academic research to back it up. In 1997, UCLA economist Sandra E. Black undertook what is now considered the seminal study linking house prices to education. Her innovative research removed variations in neighborhoods, taxes, and school spending to isolate the value parents place on school quality. According to her calculations, parents are willing to pay 2.5% more for housing for a 5% increase in test scores.”

“In 2003, Thomas J. Kane (UCLA), Douglas O. Staiger (Dartmouth), and Gavin Samms (Kennedy School) applied Black’s modeling technique to Mecklenburg County, NC. They again found that differences in school test scores are strongly related to housing values, even somewhat greater than Black concluded. Specifically, they found that moving from the bottom 5% of schools to the top 5% of schools is associated with an 18 - 25 % difference in house value, controlling for neighborhood amenities and housing characteristics. In other words, if two similar houses were across the street from one another, and one was assigned to a school in the top 5% of schools in the district and other was assigned to the lowest 5% of schools in the district, the results suggest that there would be an 18 - 25 % difference in house prices.”

“In addition, researcher David M. Brasington, while at Tulane University , explored the impact on housing market values of additional measures of public school quality. He found that proficiency tests, expenditure per pupil, and pupil-to-teacher ratio are “consistently capitalized” into housing prices, while measures such as graduation rates, teacher experience levels, and teacher education levels are not consistently positively related to housing prices.”

This article from CNN/Money also supports this view.

And GreatSchools.net, a website that rates public school systems nationwide by a variety of criteria including test scores and student-teacher ratio, is linked on many real estate websites so buyers can easily compare the quality of different communities' schools. Beverly currently rates a 6 (out of 10). This compares to rankings of other local communities: Hamilton-Wenham (9), Manchester (9), Topsfield (9), Danvers (6), Salem (4).

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