The High School Question
Each year around this time I publish an article which more closely looks at the high school situation in San Carlos. San Carlos has outstanding elementary schools. Those same elementary schools account for the number one reason why most people choose to buy a home in San Carlos. As the children of those families make their way through San Carlos schools, the question surrounding high school tends to get a bit larger with each passing year. Rarely, is this question quickly answered. In fact, many San Carlos families struggle with this decision in the years leading up to eighth grade graduation.
All of San Carlos falls under the Sequoia Union High School District. Sequoia, Woodside, Menlo-Atherton, Summit Prepatory and Carlmont are all high schools falling under the SUHSD umbrella. Depending on your location in the district, each home is assigned to a particular high school. However, if a student assigned to one of the particular SUHSD schools wishes to transfer to another one of the SUHSD schools, the student can apply for what is called an intra-district transfer. Generally, as long as space permits at the desired school, the transfer is accepted.
The vast majority of San Carlos is assigned to Sequoia High School. The Cordes Area and a small part of Beverly Terrace (click here for a map) is assigned to Carlmont. A few years ago, many who were assigned to Sequoia High School, freely transferred to Carlmont. However, Carlmont became impacted and those wanting to attend Carlmont, but were pre-assigned to Sequoia High School were denied due to the lack of space at Carlmont. In 2008, this announcement upset more than a handful of parents in San Carlos.
Fair or not, there is an overwhelming perception by many looking to buy in San Carlos that Sequoia High School is still a step behind Carlmont. Whether you believe this to be true or not, will depend on your personal criteria as to what makes a good high school. The first number everyone looks to is the API (Academic Performance Index). Each time we publish APIs on this site I always try to caution everyone that while APIs do give you one relative data point on the school, they are in no way indicative of the entire experience at the school. Carlmont’s latest API is 835. Sequoia High School is at 775. I believe the 60 point differential does equate to a reasonable difference between schools given the criteria of the API. Whether this is enough for parents to become concerned, is something different.
Sequoia High School has made tremendous improvements in recent years. You will also hear from many San Carlos parents who will attest to a wonderful experience at Sequoia. Many do recognize a positive shift at Sequoia High School, but some seem hesitant to give it a shot while it is still in transition. Understand that San Carlos is right in the middle of what is probably one of the most educated areas in the world……so it’s no surprise that many will be extremely selective in choosing a school.
Is there a Market Impact?
I believe the Carlmont-Sequoia issue has made an impact on San Carlos real estate. I do think that properties that are assigned to Carlmont in San Carlos have received a little extra bump in value. There is a reason that realtors have been more aggressive in calling out Carlmont on their marketing materials if the home is assigned to Carlmont. They are doing so because they have picked up on its value in the eyes of many buyers.
There seems to be a correlation between higher demand and homes designated for Carlmont. This was the case last night with at least two sets of buyers who bid on 17 Del Rey Court. 17 Del Rey was priced at $1,058,000 with four bedrooms and 1,950 square feet. This home attracted 12 offers after only being on the market for 5 days.
As with most of the driving forces in the San Carlos market, time will tell the true impact.