Getting schooled — Property perusers with children often consider educational zones in deciding …

The news was what the Praetes and daughter Lilly, 14, were waiting to hear: She was accepted to Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston.

There was one catch, however, and it had nothing to do with grades. The couple and their two children lived on Daniel Island in the Berkeley County School District and based on the Charleston County School District’s regulation, they had to reside in Charleston County as of June 30 to enroll at the magnet school in the fall.

They had made friends in the Etiwan Point neighborhood and knew “we’ll miss (them),” Lilly’s dad, Hampton, says. Also, Daniel Island School — which Lilly and sister, Charlotte, 11, attended — was “very good.”

In the end, the family chose to sell the Daniel Island home and look in Charleston County; the couple had resided in Seaside Farms in Mount Pleasant years ago. “We enjoyed living here, it was a great experience,” Praete says. But the relocation has allowed the family to help their children fulfill ambitions. “That’s what you want, what’s best for the kids,” he says.

Working with his Realtor mother-in-law Pam Bishop, the Praetes listed the Daniel Island home and landed a buyer within a week. They looked for an established home, again in Mount Pleasant, and within two weeks bought a larger, 3,000-square-foot house in Brickyard neighborhood. As Lilly heads off for Academic Magnet school, Charlotte will attend Laing Middle School in the fall. Their move represented a big change from Praetes’ childhood.

“I grew up in Aiken,” Praete says. “You went to the school where you lived.”

Today, he’s pleased that the family could choose a school, even if it involved selling their house and acquiring a new one. Incidentally, between the sale and purchase, “We profited from this opportunity,” he says.

The Praetes experiences are not unusual in greater Charleston, which encompasses three counties and four school districts. The largest, Charleston County, covers all of the county and Berkeley County reaches to all parts of Berkeley. Dorchester County is split between two, District 2 including Summerville and Ladson and District 4 taking in upper sections including Ridgeville and Harleyville. Demand is high for spots in charter and magnet schools. The Charleston County School District field 12,991 applications from more than 6,000 students this year via its Smart Choice website, according to March story in The Post and Courier.

Dorchester District 2 claims a tradition as a top-notch school zone, whether academically or through Summerville High’s football team headed for decades by all-time winningest high school coach John McKissick.

House hunters with children want to learn about the educational makeup, even visiting the schools their youngsters may attend, says Jana Bantz, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Southern Coast Real Estate.

She lists a two-story colonial style home in The Ponds, a planned community off U.S. Highway 17A west of Summerville. The agency promotes the six-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot home — priced at $617,000 — as districted for “Sought-After Summerville Schools!”

According to Bantz, the Dorchester 2 district has “some of the best (learning facilities) in the state.”

More specifically, students who live in The Ponds are zoned to attend the new Sand Hill Elementary School and Summerville High. They can also go to Rolling School of the Arts within 10 minutes drive for middle school, but the student must show “high-scoring grades,” she says.

In its annual housing report, Charleston Trident Association of Realtors doesn’t break out home prices or sales by school district. But the two all-county districts include the highest $325,149 median price and 9,438 sales in Charleston County and $220,115 midpoint value and 4,817 sales in Berkeley County last year. Dorchester County posted the lowest median price at $215,000 and least sales at 3,473. The wide majority of transactions are in the District 2 area while the median price would only be affected by St. George/rural Dorchester County posting a $127,500 median.

“When people are looking, they want to know the school district,” Bantz says.

For more information and photos, go to www.postandcourier.com/business/real_estate/jim-parker.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542or jparker@postandcourier.com.


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