We’ve found that schools can be a big concern for families contemplating a move. At The Apostal Group, our family has grown up in Chicago, and we’ve helped hundreds of families find a corner of the city to call their own.
If you’re moving to Chicago for the first time, or even moving to a new neighborhood, you will discover you have a wide variety of public, private and parochial schools to choose from. The Chicago Public School District is the third-largest school district in the country and serves more than 400,000 students each year. It contains 474 elementary schools, 106 high schools and 87 charter schools. The average class size for elementary schools is 20 students per teacher; in high school it is 24 students per teacher. Chicago’s public schools represent a diverse and multi-cultural population of learners and offer preschool, after-school and summer activities through partnerships with the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Library.
Particularly at the elementary school level, public schools are extremely neighborhood-focused; most children in the city will live within walking distance of their local elementary school. Students are guaranteed a spot in the school that represents their attendance area. (For more information on individual schools or to find out which schools are located in your ZIP code, visit the Chicago Public Schools’ website.) Most schools will also accept applications from students living outside their attendance area, space permitting. Some parents may opt to apply to a school outside their attendance area for special programs like foreign-language immersion classrooms or Montessori instruction.
At the high school level, schools become more specialized. City high schools offer several diversified programs; many have a particular focus such as technical training, classical education, commercial training and college prep curricula. Some offer liberal arts curricula or International Baccalaureate programs while others are designated “career academies” in which students are instructed at college-preparatory levels while receiving instruction specific to a chosen career such as business, communication or hospitality. Several high schools in Chicago are considered “selective enrollment;” all students attending those high schools must apply for admission and are accepted based on their academic performance, much like elite pre-colleges within the city.
In addition to public high school, there are several independent private schools in Chicago, including Francis W. Parker, University of Chicago Lab School, Morgan Park Academy and the Latin School of Chicago, to mention a few.
Whatever your priorities, the key to a positive school experience in Chicago is engagement; the happiest homeowner-parents are the ones who do some research and are proactive in evaluating how their child’s needs are best served by the many options in the educational system.
Education forms the core of a strong community. For those interested in higher education, Chicago is the home of many community colleges and such nationally recognized institutions as the University of Chicago, Loyola University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University and Columbia College.