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THE VALUE OF AN EDUCATION where you can learn how to surf before walking, but the top-notch public school system offered in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Each city operates its own school district; Manhattan Beach Unified, Hermosa Beach Unified and Redondo Beach Unified. What's appealing to many O homeowners or those looking to purchase in one of these communities is the fact that school-aged children can attend one of many — not just a singular — award winning public school. Compared across California, most South Bay students are near a school that ranks in the top 9 or 10 for the State. What's also appealing is providing an excellent education for children without having to seriously budget for private school. MANHATTAN BEACH Manhattan Beach Unified School District received the esteemed distinction of having been listed in Forbes Magazine's annual report, "Best Schools for Your Real Estate Buck", as the Nation's top performing school district where the median home price is $800,000. Manhattan Beach is listed 6th overall in the United States by the magazine. Manhattan Beach Unified has 5 elementary schools (Pennekamp, Meadows, Pacific, Grandview and Robinson), 1 middle school (Manhattan Beach Middle School) and one high school (Mira Costa High). Elementary schools scored as high as 965 (out of 1000) in 2010 on California's Department of Education's Academic Performance Index (API). The API was established in response to California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 and it measures the performance and growth of each school. Reports and ne of the biggest draws to the South Bay for many families with young children is not only the clean beaches data files are based on test results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program, the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). HERMOSA BEACH Hermosa Beach Unified is the smallest of the three Beach Cities Districts and is home to Hermosa View, where all kindergarten through 2nd graders attend school, and Hermosa Valley School, which houses 3rd through 8th grade. 6th through 8th graders are separated from the lower grade levels however they all share one campus. Hermosa Unified does not have its own High School so students have a choice of attending either Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach or Redondo Union High in South Redondo Beach. Both schools in Hermosa's District scored in the high 930s for 2010 and rank 10 of 10 as compared to Los Angeles Unified which ranked 4 of 10. REDONDO BEACH Redondo Beach Unified is the largest of the three, reflecting the biggest city population and student body population. There are 8 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 1 High School, as well as a continuation program, independent study and adult school program within the District. 4 of the elementary schools scored in the mid-900s and the remaining 4 scored just under 900 for 2010. Jefferson elementary in North Redondo scored just one point higher than Beryl Elementary in South Redondo at 949 and 948 respectively however, Jefferson reported 444 students in the 2010 API report versus Beryl's 234 students. North Redondo students in grades 6-8 attend Adams Middle School (API= 859) and South Redondo students attend Parras Middle School (API=911). (Jefferson's 6th grade program will cease in 2012). In 2008, Redondo Beach residents passed Bond Measure C which included financing for the elementary and middle school venues in areas such as performing arts and athletics, as well as updating the schools throughout the district with much needed new facilities, such as gymnasiums for the two middle schools, etc. Most of the work has been completed on the various campuses and a visit to the newly updated Redondo Union High School campus will demonstrate how much parents, businesses and citizens are invested in providing an excellent education to their youth. HOW THE COMMUNITY SAVED OUR SCHOOLS Similarly, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach are well known for their outstanding Education Foundations which are popularly supported by the community at large. The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation has played a key and central role in supporting the school district with fund-raising efforts which in turn help improve the public school system locally. It supplements teachers and other staff members that the State of California's educational system will not. At the tune of approximately $4 million raised annually, it's safe to say that the MBEF has raised the bar with regards to the public school system as we know it, and is leading the way in proving that a resourceful community can and will invest in their youth if the State will not. All in all, the educational foundations of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach have single handedly saved music and arts programs, as well as teacher's jobs. SCHOOLS AND REAL ESTATE A common question and debate in Real Estate is whether good schools have a direct effect on local home prices. Many thorough studies and reports have been recorded to support either side of the argument. A 2007 study published by Harvard University maintains that the difference in mean housing prices located on opposite sides of district boundaries can really only be related to differences in school exam scores only. Researchers saw a 5% increase in primary schools' test scores associated with a 2.1% increase in housing prices. What I see when taking my clients out shopping for a new home is that those with school aged children base a significant amount of their decision making on what school boundary the home is in. One of the first questions asked when I report to my client that I found a great value for them in the market is, "What school boundary it is in?" Do local Real Estate agents place value on homes based on school zoning when determining listing prices? You will see many times over in property descriptions "located in the [x] school zone"; so yes, it would appear that school relates to home value. The parents of school age children actually place this "value" on location, not the agents. Some educators do a phenomenal job creating a school environment that does indeed seem more attractive than another one. Inevitably this will draw more families into that community, hence raising demand for housing which naturally leads to a reflection in sales prices. Agents will then, of course, advertise the school district or zone, to appeal to the home buyer seeking that opportunity for that specific reason. Residents in the beach cities have a difficult decision to make when it comes to purchasing a home. With so many award winning, highly rated schools to choose from, it's not always a clear cut decision which home or neighborhood to purchase in. Let's say you have three comparable homes: one in Manhattan Beach, one in Hermosa Beach and one in Redondo Beach. Each home is within the boundary for a school scoring in the mid-900s, each is walking distance to all three levels of school, and each has that bit of an ocean view you have been seeking. With all that being equal, it now it comes down to all the other variables; such as condition of the home, neighboring homes, size of the street, ease of parking, location to conveniences such as everyday shopping, etc., etc. As a seller, how do you make your home more attractive than the rest to a buyer with school aged children? Learn the Top 5 things you can do to attract buyers with school age children to your home! Email "Top 5" to EK@ItzSold.com SOUTH BAY SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO ATTRACT NEW HOME OWNERS EACH YEAR DUE TO THE HIGH RANKINGS AND API SCORES WHEN COMPARED NATIONWIDE.