Which Charleston Areas Have the Best Public Schools?

Posted by Lee and Katherine Keadle on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 at 2:38pm.

charleston areas with the best public schools

If appreciation and resale value are important factors in your next home purchase, you should certainly compare the public schools for the areas that you’re considering. We’ve talked before on our blog about how public schools affect real estate values, and this trend should matter whether or not you have school aged children. In short, homes that are zoned for better public schools tend to perform better as real estate investments.

So where are the best public schools in Charleston? Let’s first take a look at neighborhood schools which don’t require applications or waiting lists. Students gain admission to these schools simply by living in a neighborhood zoned for automatic entry.

Mount Pleasant, James Island, and Summerville are Zoned for the Best Schools

If you look at the Great Schools rankings on our Charleston schools page of the website, you’ll see that almost every elementary and middle school in Mt. Pleasant ranks 10 out of 10. Parents are often surprised to learn that Wando High doesn’t rank as well considering that all of the elementary and middle schools feed into this one high school. However, Wando has excellent academic curricula, sports programs, and other clubs and activities. You’ll be impressed if you check out their Robotics Team or see the long list of athletic regional and state championships. The main con for attending Wando is the sheer size of it. With over 4,000 students, this high school campus can feel more like a small college. It’s also quite competitive, especially when it comes to making sports teams. Kids who want to make the soccer team or cheerleading squad will have a tougher time living in Mount Pleasant compared to other areas of Charleston.

The James Island real estate market is also strongly supported by good public schools. Although these don’t tend to rank as well as Mt. Pleasant’s, parents usually like the smaller student enrollment numbers and the recent building renovations and construction on the island. James Island Charter High was the first high school in South Carolina to convert to charter status. Students apply from all over Charleston County to attend, but all James Island residents are automatically zoned for it. The IB (International Baccalaureate) program is optional and allows students to focus on humanities, math/science, or a combination of both. Statistically, students with an IB diploma perform better in college compared to students taking other advanced programs.

If you’re willing to live further inland, you’ll get a lot more house for the money in Summerville. Plus, the Dorchester District Two schools overall are some of the best in the Charleston metro area. With three high schools, this district is one of the fastest growing in South Carolina. You’ll find several brand new facilities as well as major renovations and expansions to accommodate an increasing number of students. Not all homes in Summerville are zoned specifically for Dorchester District Two, so it’s important to verify this information before you purchase a home. Of the three areas we’ve listed, Summerville has more of a range when it comes to school rankings and reviews. For example, Rollings Middle School of the Arts tends to perform extremely well, while Fort Dorchester High School sees more average scores. With any school and any area, it’s important for home buyers to look at district websites, read reviews from parents, and use third party sources such as:

Two of the Best High Schools in Charleston are Magnet

Magnet schools require students to apply, so admission is not guaranteed. They also tend to be very competitive. As Realtors and parents, we recommend buying a home zoned for the schools you want so that you have peace of mind knowing that your kids will get automatic admission to these. (And of course, this also helps from an investment standpoint.) If your kids apply to the highly ranking magnet schools and get in, that’s fantastic! It’s just icing on the cake! However, there is less pressure for them to get admitted if there is a good public neighborhood school as a backup.

The top two public high schools in South Carolina are Academic Magnet and Charleston School of the Arts. These share a campus in North Charleston. (By the way, Wando High in Mount Pleasant is ranked #6 in the U.S. News and World Report Best Schools List for South Carolina.)

More Magnet Schools Plus Montessori Programs in Charleston

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Some of the other magnet schools in Charleston that tend to perform well are Buist Academy in Downtown Charleston, Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in West Ashley, and St. Andrews School Of Math And Science in West Ashley. You’ll also find partial magnets in Mount Pleasant, meaning that they accept zoned kids as well as some kids who apply. These partial magnet schools are Jennie Moore School for the Creative Arts, James B. Edwards, Sullivan’s Island, and Laing Middle School of Science and Technology.

We’re also often asked about public Montessori programs in Charleston. Two of the best options are Mount Pleasant’s East Cooper Montessori Charter and James Island’s Murray LaSaine (which is a partial magnet).

Do Your Homework

When it comes to national rankings, Academic Magnet High School is the #8 best high school in the country according to U.S. News. Although these rankings negate the notion that SC has some of the worst public schools in the country, it’s important to recognize that public schools vary drastically depending on which area you live. Charleston has some extraordinarily good public and private schools, but even within our metro area the rankings fluctuate greatly. We encourage home buyers to do their homework when it comes to verifying the school information on home listings. A simple call to the school will put you in touch with the right person who can confirm the info you need. We also recommend taking a tour of the school your child will attend so that you can see the facilities first hand and learn about the programs offered. And finally, if you’re wanting to compare your home buying options, we at the Keadle Group are happy to help! As Realtors and parents of kids in public school, we take pride in being your Charleston resource. Contact us to talk about your home needs!

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