The importance of our school system to real estate values

15 Meyer Place

This Riverside home is directly on I-95. It’s ugly, on a noisy  (okay, deafening) street and quite dated. Its original price was $920,000, its  ( 2005 ) appraisal was $860,000, and it’s reported sold today at $560,000. I’m speculating here, but I’ll guess that the buyers are parents of young children who were willing to pay even that much because they wanted access to Riverside Elementary and Eastern Middle School, (plus, maybe., Tod’s Point.). In most towns, this place is a $100,000 house, at best.

But Greenwich no longer has an excellent school system and certainly not anything comparable to our competitors. Erecting a $29 million music studio at the high school will do little to correct this decline. We’re still better than NYC, where half the students are deemed “not college ready” and we’re certainly better than Syracuse, where only 1% of Spanish-American kids are, but those aren’t our competitors Westport, Darien, New Canaan – are, and we’re not doing a good job. Adding oboe rehearsal space isn’t going to cure that. I don’t know the answer to improving our schools, but I’m pretty sure building frills isn’t it.

44 Comments

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44 responses to “The importance of our school system to real estate values

  1. just_looking

    Darien has it’s own problems with the school system, special ed and budget woes.

  2. Dan

    Pictures are still posted on Trulia. Boy that’s ugly. And combine it with, what you say, is a ton of I-95 noise?? $560K feels expensive. Are Riverside’s schools that much better than glenville, central greenwich or old greenwich?

    http://www.trulia.com/homes/Connecticut/Riverside/sold/345212-15-Meyer-Pl-Riverside-CT-06878

  3. Anonymous

    Maybe you should tell your clients to look at other towns (Darien, New Canaan,Westport) and not Greenwich for housing.

  4. TraderVic

    The averages for Greenwich schools are devastating, but there is still excellence, and plenty of it, at the top. Something like 30% of our graduating HS class does not go onto college. This weighs down our numbers significantly. The remaining 70% are pretty top notch.

    I believe that the bottom 30% suffers from multi-faceted issues, including factors at home, lack of access to good nursery schools when young, and possibly nutritional issues. These are tough problems to crack, and we definitely need to try.

    However, we do need to calm ourselves down. Greenwich still offers a superior education for children that don’t suffer from these sad issues.

  5. fred

    dosent say much for the people who buy belle haven near grass island and I95. Stinky and loud, yet shell out mega millions for a few acres. go figure!

  6. Patrick

    Chris,

    Given the deafening noise on that road, why do you think 21 Meyer sold for $2,050,000 two weeks ago? The spread seems large. Is there just a shortage of decent size, well conditioned homes?

    • Patrick, 21 Meyer is two or three blocks removed from the highway and the noise is far less than this one, which is right on I-95. Plus, 21 is newly built, very nice quality, much more space and has a pool.

  7. Pete

    I notice Trulia highlights Stanwich School as a nearby school.

  8. Patrick

    Dan,

    Yes. If you go by school scores alone, Riverside is better than Glenville and Central Greenwich. Here are CMT scores:

    3rd Grade Math, reading Writing at goal
    Glennville – 61%,44%,61%
    Julian Curtis (central greenwich) – 73%,78%,71%
    Riverside – 86%,82%84%

    Middle schools for Riverside is EMS. Glenville feeds WMS and Julian Curtis EMS.

    WMS – 64%, 74%, 68%
    CMS- 79%, 85%, 69%
    EMS – 92%, 90%, 92%

    So, yes…school district is meaningful in Greenwich. Darien, Westport, New Canaan, and Wilton don’t have this disparity mostly due to demographics. As pointed out earlier the top students do well in Greenwich. I’m going to guess that the vast majority of riverside kids have gone to pre-school, so it’s probably unfair when comparing….but let’s not kid ourselves, this system needs some serious attention and the performance is disappointing even for Riverside and EMS….we can do better.

  9. Patrick

    Chris,

    By the way, that house might have gone for $100 less in another part of town, but not that much.. East of central Greenwich you don’t see many single family homes selling for less than $500k…..even on the highway. So I’m not sure I’m in agreement about it selling for a premium price.

    I do however agree that Riverside is a good school and homes tend to be priced higher because of that…this one not so much

  10. A Neigh-Bore

    Simple – you’re buying (and selling) a BRAND called GREENWICH INC – if you figure out the value of all the facilities the Town has to offer (parks, playgrounds, beaches, library,yada,yada) as well as the “We moved to Greenwich” braggadocio(sic) it’s well worth the coin to some :)))
    I stopped telling out-of-town friends and relatives how much I paid for the POS I live in – it was too embarrassing – still it’s probably a lot better than the pokey UWS box they’ve been cooped up in for a few years.

  11. TraderVic will now be known as “Voice of Reason”

  12. Anonymous

    Chris: do you have something against the 2010 assessment figures? I would have thought we could stop referencing those 2005 numbers.

    • Anon, while we agents are supposed to update our listings’ tax info immediately, you’d be surprised (even if I’m not) have few have done so. I’d guess that we’ll be into the new system in a month or two.

  13. anon

    My kids are all doing just fine at Greenwich public schools. No school system is perfect, and unless you make at least $10mm a year, your kids will be out of place at the local private schools. In fact, even people who are worth hundreds of millions send their kids to Greenwich public schools – here’s one fine example: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/jets_sanchez_and_hs_gal_in_qb_sack_mZbd0040agTuBTZDU69YnM

  14. Resident

    Darien and New Canaan are towns. Greenwich is a city, despite the fact that our old timers are against sidewalks, and it is an apples orange comparison Averages are deceiving and don’t reflect the relative achievement. Look at the average placement stats at the private schools compared with the “bound for college track” at public schools and one would question why one would ever spend the money, but on average they’re all happy to pay.

  15. GreenwichSchools?

    Do you get similar feedback / concerns regarding the schools from your clients as well?

    • In fact I do, and the biggest concern of out-of-towners considering our town is the quality of our schools. By the time they first meet me they’ve researched test results for every town around here. Vague blandishments by realtors about the wonderful Greenwich school system won’t cut it anymore.
      There’s a certain irony here. Because, by law, realtors can’t say anything about one school district being better than another, buyers have been forced to look up that information themselves, and with the Internet, that’s an easy task.

  16. Old School Grump

    Trader Vic at 6 p.m., you are onto something about nursery school unavailability. In 1995 and 96 — 15 years ago!– we put our son in a nursery school at a church in Rye because we could not find anything in Greenwich. You name it — public school program, private school program, YMCA, YWCA, assorted “open to the community” church programs … nothing was available, regardless of price. Clearly, the town of Greenwich just didn’t have the needed capacity. It sounds like this has not changed, which is too bad. (PS, the church preschool in Rye was terrific.)

  17. Georgie in Greenwich

    Well said, Chris.

  18. Last Liberal Standing

    CF,

    Your generalizations about Greenwich’s “no longer . . . excellent school system” are fueled by uncritical thinking and hearsay. It doesn’t seem as if you’ve “studied up” on what Greenwich schools face. To compare us unfavorably to Westport, Darien, and New Canaan is to ignore an obvious and vital difference.

  19. Patrick

    Last Liberal Standing:

    Per your comment:

    ” It doesn’t seem as if you’ve “studied up” on what Greenwich schools face. To compare us unfavorably to Westport, Darien, and New Canaan is to ignore an obvious and vital difference.”

    If you believe the obvious difference is demographics, I would ask you take the very homogeneous and wealthier sections of Old Greenwich and Riverside school districts and compare them to the other homogeneous wealthier towns in CT and you will still find that the scores are lower – not by huge margins but enough to seriously ask why?. The demographic, size and diversity issue is an excuse.. ..it’s time our town took this issue more seriously since it hurts everyone.

  20. Yesterday

    all my troubles seem so far away….

    most of your bloggers remember WHEN this town was great…the best barometer of a good town is family owned business on its Main Street that bring character and diversity…family meeting places…those were the days…now it is gone due to greedy commercial realtors…just a boring crop of stores and an overall boring town with very money greedy people, all on the path to troubles.

  21. So Greenwich

    @Anon: nothing in the article says she goes to GHS and I am not sure that she does . . . also if you look at her text messages, she says “no” when she intended “know” . . . maybe she does go to GHS . . .

  22. Anonymous

    Greenwich school system not great? Tell that to the three boys from GHS who got into West Point. Not too shabby!

  23. NoWorriesMate

    Chris, i am disgusted that you would trash peoples choice of home or school. Disgraceful. My guess is that these people are proud of their choice, for whatever reason, and shame on you for turning it into a circus about your views af Greenwich schools. People are still just people and not business deals. People can afford what they can afford, and maybe do the best for their children. Maybe their kids won’t go to Stockton or whatever shirty decision you made for your daughter.

    I’m sure you’ve done this long enought to know there is a market and a reason for all transactions, not just the ones you deem worthy. Good luck to your 57 year old elderly self. You act like you’re 90, old and cranky. I’m done here.

  24. Cos Cobber

    I agree, TraderVic is the voice of reason. But Patrick is right, we need to do better.

  25. NoWorriesMate

    I believe the owner of a restraurant should know why a parton left and won’t return. And they have a right to know AND every one was gracious and thoughtful with their reply.

    Like many readers, i came to this site for real estate insight, and lost my compass, as it often becomes the high school girls bathroom. Cruel banter about someone, in what i thought was the sweet spot for this blog, was just mean spirited and negative energy. But by the comments of people, everyone DID in fact just want to defend their own views on schools, justifying their choices. Alas, school related posts often draw the most comments in the past.

  26. patrick

    No worries mate,

    I am one who is not proud of my choice in Greenwich and am thankful for these forums to bring light to the issues that face our town.

    In terms of people being able to afford what they can afford, the point of this thread is that if you can afford Greenwich you more than likely can afford Darien, wilton, westport or new canaan….in fact those towns are likely cheaper.

    Furthermore, if you look through the history of this blog, discussions on greenwich schools seem to attract the most activity and many people are in agreement, so I don’t think these are the views of just one person….there are a lot of people who feel the same.

    You anger doesn’t seem to have much basis in fact.

  27. Dinosaur Dad

    The view from an ex-Greenwichite: my children children went to North Mianus and Eastern Middle, then started high school in Westport in 9th grade.
    Simply put, Westport is light years ahead of Greenwich. Reasons vary, but one notable difference is that a high percentage of Westport parents do NOT send their kids to private school…and thus have a personal stake in the public schools (and demand results). Another key: superior school board leadership and school administration.

  28. Xyz

    Riverside School isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A school is only as strong as its leader and when three are needed to run the show, there’s a problem. Talk with the parents and they’ll tell you what they really think about some of the teachers in that building. There’s a major discrepancy across grade levels between decent instructors and those who are there to just collect their paychecks. And I’m not referring to ‘older’ teachers either. You’ll be very surprised at what good, honest dialogue tells you.

  29. TraderVic

    NoWorriesMate,
    It is NOT okay to trash Chris for a “sh***y decision about his daughter’s school”. Bringing one’s innocent kids into it is beyond the pale.

    PS Learn how to write English.

  30. gmom

    I wonder how private tutoring effects standardized test scores? I have no doubt that there are many factors involved but I’ve heard a lot of families at higher performing schools in wealthy areas rely on tutors to help their kids. It doesn’t give us a good, true picture of how the school is performing. Personally, I say do whatever you need to help your child and assuming you have the time or money to help, they will do fine at any local school. We’ve got incredibly bright, successful kids coming out of Ham Ave and New Leb every year despite the school test scores.

    • gmom, I once taught LSAT courses for Kaplan, and the kids all tested better after the course than before (or most of them did), so I do think tutoring for standardized tests can be helpful.
      On the other hand, I almost flunked algebra in 8th grade despite tutoring. I repeated the course in 9th grade and had the great good fortune to get Eastern’s best math teacher, a Mr. Neenan, who made everything crystal clear, and I recieved an A. So I guess, a good teacher can help, a lot. And if your child can’t find that teacher at school, then a tutor is probably the way to go.

  31. tronathon

    XYz-I am a parent at Riverside School and can say that while no school is perfect , we have been very pleased with the way our children have been educated there. The reason for three “leaders” is simple. Mr. Grasso was asked to intermin head of the ALP committee so they have two Vice-Principles to cover the extra work load. I think that it was a great idea.

  32. ltd

    xyz, i cant believe you said what so many of us are thinking. i so agree with you. double dipping on the salary and doing a whole lot of nothing. major gaps in teacher caliber across grade levels. north mianus and north street doing a much better job. riverside prides themselves on being the largest elementary school…what is to boast about that? old, small classrooms, tired uninspiring teachers. I was born and raised in the town of Greenwich and went all through the public schools (including Riverside). we need more xyz’s to get back to the abc’s.

  33. NoWorriesMate

    TraderVic. I type on my iPad how i type. Substance not style. It’s ok for Chris to trash some family, but i can’t say a thing about his admitted assist in the decision for his child. Fair is fair.

    And Patrick, i said, people on this site have always gone crazy over school chatter. Nothing new.

  34. concerned

    Those in the know acknowledge that Greenwich has a superior school system when compared with other smaller, less homogenious schools. I raised children in the public school system in Greenwich who flourished in college and beyond!

  35. XYz

    Concerned: It’s one thing to be in the know now as opposed to whatever decade your kids attended the Greenwich Public Schools. You’d be surprised at how ‘ concerned’ you’d be today.

  36. SouthernDiscomfort

    What happened to free speech? You take down my post because it is critical of you? Hypocrite.

    • The right of free speech refers to state power. I’m not the state and I do run this blog, so I am free to delete anything I find abusive. I probably delete, at most, four or five comments a month (usually for racist comments or personal attacks on otherreaders) but I have no obligation to post personal attacks against me. You want to do that, start your own blog – it’s free. Or, you can sign in as Walt, and fire away.