From public schools to private schools to higher education, Broward County and the Greater Fort Lauderdale area offer a wide array of options.  If you are considering a home purchase in the area and have school age children, you will certainly want to research the school system that each neighborhood provides.  Depending on the age of your children and their interests, you may find that the school is within walking distance.

Perhaps some of my personal experience from being a mom, Girl Scout Leader, and Calvary Chapel Small Groups Leader for Middle School Girls will give some perspective on schools along with the information you can glean from the various websites below.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

 Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest school district in the nation, the second largest in the state of Florida, and Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962.  There are presently 236 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 91 charter schools.

As with any school district, it’s location, location, location followed by rating, rating, rating.

I would follow up with – what is your child’s interest AND how many kids are in the classroom, in the school, and a few other things.  These are just practical things thinking from a mom’s perspective – if this school is not within walking distance, how long is the commute?  And, is the commute worse in rush hour?  Is the school close to extra-curricular activities?

There are many wonderful magnet programs and, of course, when the kids get to high school, they can apply to the Columbia program at Ft. Lauderdale High School or the Law Program at Pompano Beach High School.  Broward Schools have many magnet programs based on your child’s area of interests and grades, so keep them hitting the books (at all ages).

Recently, Broward received a grant to put new computers in classrooms (I believe it is 1 new computer for every 2 students) and new musical instruments – always great things to hear for educational and cultural learning.

www.browardschools.com

https://www.greatschools.org/florida/fort-lauderdale/broward/

For those of you with “wee ones”, I am sharing with you my favorite pre-school.  It is BabyBoomers International.  The reason I chose this school is the owner, Julia Musela, who has a creative way of opening up education to her students through the Montessori method, as well as having multi-lingual and international teachers.  My kids were more than well prepared for Kindergarten, but more importantly were happy and had a great balance of outdoor time, field trips and so much more.

Be aware and note, there is a waiting list for enrollment.

www.bbinernationalpreschool.org

I am also partial to Calvary Christian Academy’s Pre-K programs because the program is so robust from start to finish and is faith based.  www.ccaeagles.org

In Florida there is something called the VPK Program which allows children to prepare for Kindergarten – this is funded by the state, and most pre-schools offer this state funded program.  At some schools, you may have to subsidize the tuition.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

There are presently 192 private schools in Broward County serving 43,025 students with a student/teacher ratio of 12:1.

Fort Lauderdale has 80 private schools with a student/teacher ratio of 11:1.  Sixty five percent of the schools are religiously affiliated, predominately Christian and Roman Catholic.  Average tuition is $7,327 for elementary schools and $13,623 for high schools.

The two most prominent, non-religious, private schools are Pine Crest and American Heritage.  Having friends that have had kids at both of these schools, they are both excellent.  From a mom’s perspective, the homework load is outrageous at American Heritage and your kids will have no life outside of school.  If your child is all about Academics and on a straight path for Harvard, this may be the route for you.  I will reiterate – great school – just watch for balance; some of my girls tell me their homework load was 6 to 8 hours and there was not time to even re-charge their laptops and iPads while sleeping.  While learning Mandarin Chinese is great, I don’t want my 6th grader having a meltdown because he/she didn’t get her AP History assignment done.

Pine Crest has amazing extra curricular programs in all areas and several of my neighbors have kids at top rated schools (USC, Harvard, Stanford, UF, etc.)

Many of our local families attend St. Coleman’s for worship and school through 8th grade and the feeder school after this is Cardinal Gibbons. I’ve had several Girl Scouts graduate from Cardinal Gibbons.

When I was searching for my children’s school, I wanted a school where they would start Kindergarten and go through 12th grade.  Westminster and Calvary Christian Academy were the only two at the time.  I literally interviewed and visited about 30 public and private schools.

I chose Calvary Christian Academy and it has turned out to be a good choice for our family.  My son, Trent, started Kindergarten, took AP, Dual Enrollment classes, got a perfect score on his SAT Test twice, and is now thriving at the University of Florida.

My daughter, Amanda, is now a junior at CCA. She is on the National Dance Honor Society, is in AP and Honors Classes, volunteers and is doing exceptionally well.

My husband and I are blessed knowing our children are happy, well rounded and receiving an excellent education.

Here are the links for the private schools:

www.privatefortlauderdaleschools.com

www.privateschoolreview.com

 HIGHER EDUCATION

There are 60 colleges within a 50-mile radius of Fort Lauderdale.  Homebuyers with college age children may want to consider purchasing a home in the Fort Lauderdale area for the duration of higher education rather than losing 100% in boarding costs at an out-of-state school.  Home prices in the area have trended upward since 2011 and continue on this path.  This increase in home values could defer significant college expenses.

Many of my friends chose to have their kids attend college at local institutions their first two years while living at home – this can be a real cost saver!  Florida Atlantic University is a great option, Broward College is close by and Palm Beach College isn’t too far away either.

Here are a few college websites:

www.fldoe.org/schools/higher-ed

www.stateofflorida.com

www.collegessimply.com

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Florida Prepaid College Plan. If you are buying a house or renting and you have kids, you must research this option for you and your children’s financial benefit.

My husband and I elected both the Florida Prepaid Plan and a 529 savings plan for our two children.  Our thought was that the kids could receive their undergraduate diploma in Florida and their graduate degrees with the 529 Plan without incurring any student loans.

So many college graduates walk into adulthood with staggering student loan debt and often without employment for months after graduation.  By utilizing these two saving plans, your children will be able to save more quickly for a down payment on their first home.  Financial independence and success along with a solid education allows your children the opportunity to start adulthood in a positive way.