Our school hunt is over

If you had told me before I became a mother that I would start looking for an elementary school for my son before he turned three years old, I would have laughed.

Me, a graduate of a suburban Catholic School where classes regularly had more than 30 kids in them?

Three kids out of the 100 or so in my grade at Gesu School in University Heights, Ohio, went to Harvard, another went to Princeton and, well, I could go on, but you get the point: My grade school was nothing fancy, and we did just fine.

But then I had Luke, and by the time he was two years old, I began to understand why so many Philadelphia parents were obsessed with finding the right school. Some city schools are unsafe (http://www.pulitzer.org/works/2012-Public-Service), and the district’s budget woes make cutbacks a constant.

Even so, I wanted public school to be an option for my family. That meant learning about the district’s Voluntary Transfer Program, which lets parents transfer children to a district school that has extra space. But which schools were good, and given the increasing numbers of families with children in the city, could we get into one of them? And what about all the charter schools?

That was only the start of the homework. I also wanted to look at private and parochial schools, and the Philadelphia region has a lot of them. And so, I began peppering every city parent with questions about where they sent their children to school. School open houses became my hobby. If I could squeeze in a visit before work, I did.

In my next few posts, I will share what my husband and I learned in our hunt and explain how we finally chose our son’s next school.  

If you would like any specific questions answered on this topic, please e-mail me at hillmb@phillynews.com.