Looking for Info on School Districts in West Suburbs

Updated on March 29, 2008
P.G. asks from Naperville, IL
32 answers

We will be moving to the Chicago area from Michigan in the summer of '08 and we are trying to decide on a school district so that we can start looking at houses. Can anybody tell me some good places to start looking in the West suburbs? We've heard good things about Naperville, Plainfield, Elmhurst, Oak Park, St. Charles and Aurora. We really have NO idea!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for all your responses. You gave a lot of valuable insider info and also many of you gave us websites that we can use for further research. I think that we are well on our way to making an informed decision! Thanks so much!

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

P.,
Oak Park has wonderful schools! We moved here 17 years ago for the schools and the diversity and have never once regretted it. I am a retired educator, and I care about schools! Best of luck.
L.

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

For an objective look at the the local school districts, try the website www.iirc.niu.edu. You can search by school district, or by city. The website is run by Northern Illinois University and funded by the Illinois Board of Eduction.

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E.W.

answers from Chicago on

P.,
You seem to have A LOT of responses to you question. Here's one more:
I grew up in Glen Ellyn, as did my parents, and as an adult, I worked for Glen Ellyn school dist 41 from 2001-2005. They do have great schools however, you're going to pay for them! My parents, who purchased their current 3 bed 2 bath house in 1990 for 110,000 could now sell it for close to 450,000. I think that CRAZY as they haven’t done much updating at all. If you're looking for a small town feel but with big town amenities, then I'd head a bit west, as we did, and look at St. Charles and Geneva. There are some very pricy homes in the area, however, there are still TONS of "affordable" ones too. (EX: 150,000-350,000). My husband and I moved from Warrenville (great schools as well!) to St. Charles in 2006 because it's the kind of town we'd like to raise our family in. From our location, we can walk to town, library, pool, park district, church, preschool, and the elementary school. There are TONS of community events like farmers markets, ST. Pat's parade, Christmas parade, sisters weekend, and we have a festival in the fall and in the summer. There's also a great night life with bars, pubs, and restaurants. However, it doesn't seem to draw the really young crowd (21-25) like Naperville. Our park district offers plenty of programs, and our property taxes are very reasonable. We're right on the Fox River where you can fish and boat too! The surrounding towns of Geneva and Batavia also have a lot to offer and we visit then frequently, as do many others thanks to the Geneva metra station. Lastly, my husband works in Chicago and just hops on the train in Geneva in the morning. We couldn't ask for a better community.

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

I don't know what you've heard about any of those schools but I was raised in Riverside and raised my kids in Elk Grove Village. The high school has won the Presidents award of achievement 3-4- times in the past 6 years. The park districk has everything a growing child needs from music to sports or just exercise programs. If there is a idle child in Elk Grove, it's because a parent didn't let them join the fun programs the district has to offer. All my nieces and nephews have lived with me numerous times while growing up and brag to their friends that when they grew up they got to do everything. Elk Grove really is phenominal. Housing is from starters to elite. Great neighborhood, parks, waterpark, indoor pool and out, indoor skateboarding, ice rink, teen house, I could go on for hours. Send me a note if you want to know more.

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N.A.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P., I live in th far East Aurora and my kids go to Oswego District 308. The schools are great. Oswego is a nice town to look into too. We are about 40 miles out of Chicago and close to the Toll roads and train statiion if you need them. Its a nice suburban life out here.
www.oswego308.org

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J.A.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P.~
So many things to consider when you move west. Does you husband take the train into the city for work? What is your price range? Did you see the article in Newsweek, Western Springs is the #2 place in the country to raise children. The elementary school district is 4th in the state.
I know all the areas you mentioned, as I have been in the area for 30 years now.
I would be happy to help you find a house, I am a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Hinsdale. let's talk on the phone, I can give you all the info you want. call me at ###-###-####, leave me a voicemail and I'll get right back to you. The spring market is upon us and there is a lot to choose from. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thasnks,
J. A.

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

hi,
have you looked at schaumburg.my 7 year old son is in school here. he has adhd and has the best teachers and school situation we could have hoped for other than a privite school. im a sahm of 2 boys and have lived here for over 11 years and we love it. lots to do and near the highway so we can get anywhere fairly fast. plus my 2 year old is in a fantastic preschool called kidtown usa. in schaumburg you can send your child to any school in the district since each has a speciality such as a language. one has japanese, one has sign language and so on. i hope you find what you are looking for.
M. silver

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

Oak Park and Naperville definitely have good schools. The test scores in naperville and some of the suburbs are likely a little higher than Oak Park but they have far less diversity. So it depends on what you are looking for. I live in Oak Park because it is known as a crunchy granola, liberal democrat, save the whale kind of place with lots of diversity, a farmer's market, has an arts district and where I live is two blocks from the city limits. The schools are good. The public library and the park district are fabulous - you know exactly where your tax dollars are going. It is a very family friendly location and there are lots and lots of activities for kids and grown-ups. It is also the closest suburb to down town and easily accessible by the El (metro). My neighbors are fabulous. The other suburb that is a little similar is Evanston, though it is not quite as diverse.

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T.V.

answers from Chicago on

Oh my gosh-P. you sound just like me last summer. I too am from Michigan-graduated from Novi High School, went to U of M and lived there for the past 20 years. Have you been current on the real estate going on here--there is an expected influx of housing again and I know of 2 realtor's that could help you. it is a buyers market but I love the area that i am in. The schools are absolutely top rated and phenomenal.

We have been here for almost a year and I am so glad I made the decision. The sense of community is wonderful and people are so out going, friendly and willing to help and support us. i have no family nearby to help and we have an 8, 6 and 3 mo. old. I too am a SAHM but do direct sales for a custom purse business. Anyways--PARK RIDGE is it. The cost of living is higher but well worth the money. Please send me a personal message if you would like to talk one on one.

T.

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T.S.

answers from Peoria on

In my experience, Elk Grove has excellent schools and Wood Dale does not.

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

Greatschools.net is a good resource. The SunTimes also ranks the schools - maybe search for it?

We researched extensively and chose district 181 for Hinsdale/Clarendon Hills. All their schools from K to 12 have been consistently top rated! It is expensive but offers an easy commute.

Our second choice was Naperville District 203 or 204 (North of 75th Street). Naperville schools are consistent, more affordable, but tacks on at least a half hour commute from the city - too far for my husband.

Other considerations (in this order) would have been Oak Park/River Forest. Definately more diverse but the edgy feel was too much for us. Then consider Downers Grove (North), Elmhurst, LaGrange and Western Springs.

If your husband does not commute into the city, you could consider (in this order) Naperville, St. Charles, Plainfield, Geneva, Aurora. People like the area because you can get a new house in a nice subdivision. But, many schools don't have the track record and a city commute could be 1.5 to 2 hours.

If you can, visit some elementary schools while you are house hunting. I found that to be very telling (overcrowding, character building programs, foreign language, parent involvement, computer training, etc.).

Good Luck!

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

I must say...reading your posting was like reading a page out of my life. We moved to the Chicago suburbs from Harrison Twp., MI in June of 2007. Having always lived in MI...we also had no idea about anything over here in IL. We have two kids, boy-8 and girl-5. Went through the same thing. I researched schools at the following Illinois State Board of Education website: www.isbe.state.il.us If you look under "Report Cards" you can look up schools by city, school name or district number. It basically gives you a glimpse into the academic performance of the school. We settled in a city called Hoffman Estates...very nice area. We are in Schaumburg Township School District 54 schools - very happy with the school.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

The suburbs you list are very different places - all nice, as far as I know, but I think I'd want to visit them first before deciding, because they are so different! My husband and I are also originally from Michigan, and we fell in love with Oak Park after looking at condos in Chicago (where we were living at the time) for over a year. We are extremely happy with our neighborhood grade school - I have never felt more at home in a community and I simply love our school, the teachers, and our principal. I can't compare what is available with other districts, but I think our arts and music education is great - much better than I had as a kid - and I've been happy with pretty much everything in our experience of the schools so far. We are going through the IEP process with my son (ADHD but very bright) and everyone has been helpful, respectful, and concerned for him as a person and a learner.

It's a beautiful, urban neighborhood and very diverse racially and in every other way - my kids go to school with the kids of bankers, lawyers, architects, professors, scientists, artists, chefs, musicians, journalists, you name it. If you want a strong community, easy access to public transit, walkable neighborhoods, and old beautiful houses and tree-lined streets, you might enjoy it. It's a suburb, but it feels like a small town in many ways. But, also very urban in some ways. It's also close to downtown and the airports, so a very convenient location. River Forest, right next door to Oak Park, shares a high school with us which is very well regarded, and they have an excellent grade school system.

Downsides are high property taxes, small lots, and relatively high prices. Make sure you look at taxes wherever you go - schools are funded totally differently here. Illinois is at the bottom of the country for funding from state funds - so property taxes pay for schools, and Oak Park has no industry to speak of.

Good luck with your move!

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P.R.

answers from Chicago on

We live in LaGrange and my husband and I have been here our whole lives. We have 3 children (4, 7, 10) and are very happy with the schools. They go to a Catholic grade school (just a personal choice, I know a lot of people happy with the public grade schools here) but will go to Lyons Township, the public high school, which has a great reputation. LaGrange is a nice old town with a great downtown area that many can walk to...there are nice restaurants, stores and the new library is right downtown also. Good luck with your move to Chicago...it's a great place to live! By the way...LaGrange has train in walking distance to take to the city and we are only about 25 minutes from downtown by car.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi, I'm also from Michigan. My husband grew up in the western burbs and graduated from Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn Highshool). Anyways, I graduated from Western Michigan University and loved living in Kalamazoo. My parents still live in Niles, Mi. We lived downtown before kids and moved to Oak Park for our first child. We found Oak Park to offer a lot in terms of an awsome library, tons of great parks. It's a very nice place to take walks when your little one is still in a stroller. A lot of the yards are small though and the homes are mostly older. I was ready for something less urban. Our house that we lived in was a block in from Harlem, which was very busy. Our driveway was a shared driveway, so I was afraid that my 1 and 2 1/2 yr old (at the time) would get out into the busy street to easy. I did like being close enough to walk to downtown Oak Park, but I didn't like the urban side to walking around there. My husband's coworker at his bank went out to lunch with another older lady from the bank and were close to downtown in an area with lots of places for lunch (not a bad area usually) and she got mugged, fingers broken, the other lady got a bruised face. We moved to Wheaton after that because that is where my husband works now and where he lived as a kid and is next to the town where he went to highschool. Cute little college town. Lots of nice neighborhoods and parks and nice park district programs. Wheaton is a pain the way you pay for garbage stickers but other then that it's pretty nice. We moved to Naperville because it's still close to where he works but is in the same town as his parents, is voted #1 town in the Country for families to live in. Also, the library here is ranked top 1 or 2 in the country. My kids love story hour here! My daughter loves her ballet class at the YMCA. There are so many beautiful parks and tons of places to go shopping or out to eat. The downtown is huge with a small town feel. It's sort of like a small Chicago without the panhandlers. The school districts, both 203 and 204 are ranked pretty high. I've heard from a real estate agent...that 203 is the best and 204 is pretty good as well. When we lived in Wheaton, I missed the Oak Park library and the Oak Park Shopping but didn't miss the urban feel. After we moved to Naperville, I feel we have the best of both worlds. Good luck to you!

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K.D.

answers from Chicago on

Naperville has the best, but most areas near there are really good. Stay away from Villa Park, Lombard is OK but there are better. Lisle is only good if you get into the naperville schools. Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove (north end) is really good, Hindsdale, Oak Brook All fantastic. Further west St. Charles is really good. Stay away from Aurora and West Chicago. That's all I've got....Good luck

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

Check into Riverside, it is just south of Oak Park. It is located between 2 major expressways, and also between 2 train lines. The school district is excellent and it is a very "Leave it to Beaver" community.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P., I too moved from Michigan to the Chicago area several years ago. No internet at the time so I did a lot of reading and went with my gut. I did not want a Napperville experience, very suburban competitive yuppie lifestyle. We found a nice community in Downers Grove. Half hour from Chicago, good schools, but a little congested these days. I now live in St. Charles, about an hour from Chicago and Love it. Geneva is right next to to St. Charles and I think I would prefer that even more. These two towns run along the Fox river and have charming communities! Where will your husband be working? The commute is always an important factor to consider. if you have any other questions feel free to write [email protected]____.com

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

I am originally from GR. I went to Forest Hills Central and my parents still live there. Where do you currently live? I always am curious about fellow Michiganders! My husband and I met in Chicago and have been married 11 1/2 years. We live in Bolingbrook but our two daughters attend Plainfield schools. I am thoroughly happy with the educational standards we have experienced. My kids are still pretty young, one in kindergarten and one in second grade, but I have nothing but pleased with the development over the years we've been in Plainfield schools. We currently attend Liberty Elementary but the girls will switch to go to a new school (growing community!) next year. Naperville also has great schools. The taxes to live in Naperville are really high but you can live even in Bolingbrook and still be zones for Naperville schools (District 204. Plainfield is 202) I don't know much about the other districts you mentioned. If you want to pick my brain further, email me at [email protected]____.com luck with the move. There's a few houses in my neighborhood for sale if you need recommendations. Ha!

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J.W.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P.,

My name is J. Whitney and I am with Prudential Spengel Realty in Wheaton. I am relocation certified and would love the opportunity to help you and your husband find the perfect home. Some great school sites to help "rate" the area schools are as follows:

www.schoolsearchrankings.com/index.htm

www.dailyherald.com/packages/2007/schoolreport

greatschools.net

schoolmatters.com

Additionally, let me know if you would like me to set you up to receive automatic listings in your criteria, in as many areas as you would like, just to help you through the homework process of figuring out what you can get for your money in the different areas. I would be more than happy to set you up to receive this information, no pressure...just a great way to help keep your eye on the market...especially when you are moving from a different area.

You can reach me at ###-###-#### which is my cell, or visit my website at www.JenandBeth.com. We would love the opportunity to earn your business.

J.

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

Oak Park has a really good school district

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N.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P.-

An "early" welcome to Chicago. I moved here from Ohio about 8 years ago and haven't looked back. Although, we started in the City and just kept moving west with our kids. :) It's funny how that works, isn't it?

Anyway, IL is blessed with some of the best public school districts in the Country. I am not sure how MI is but OH had a terrible school system. So much so that if you wanted a good education, you needed to send your kids to private school. Anyway, I digress. Some areas to look at include (starting from the east): Evanston, Glenview, Lake Zurich, Northbrook, Mount Prospect, Barrington, Inverness, Naperville and Oswego. I have done a lot of research and these seem to be some of the best.

As a side note, I am currently getting ready to move from the Barrington school district (220) to the Oswego School District (308) to be closer to my husband's work. I'm not sure if you are interested, but I am in a prime location. We live in (North) Hoffman Estates but get to enjoy the benefits of the Barrington School District with the lower taxes. We are near everything.

If you would like to take a look at our house, you can see it at: http://chicagotribune.2.homescape.com/SCS/listing_details...

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Summer is a great time to come here.

N.

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N.D.

answers from Chicago on

P.,

I can see that you've already received a lot of great advice, but I will echo what a few have already said. Like Jaime, we also live in the Green Trails subdivision in Lisle and are in the Naperville (203) school district. We moved here last year from a nearby community last summer and love it!! We had the advantage in that we could really have gone anywhere. But since my husband and I research everything to death, by the time we made the decision to move to the Lisle/Naperville area we never regretted it for a second. Naperville especially has always been considered an excellent community for families with young children and Lisle was recently named the 20th best place to live (based on 20-50,000? pop.) by Money Magazine.

If you're looking for specific info on area schools, try www.greatschools.net It will give you lots of info on a district's makeup, test scores and also includes reviews by parents...a great resource! Good luck with your search!

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R.

answers from Chicago on

I'm in La Grange. Close to the city and great schools!

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A.O.

answers from Chicago on

Elmhurst has a wonderful school district as does OakBrook and Hinsdale which are neighboring towns as well.

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J.R.

answers from Chicago on

Here is the website to our school district. You can see each individual school's 'report card'.

I like the schools my kids are in. They have done very well.

http://www.vvsd.org/default.php

if you want more details, let me know, i'd be happy to answer your questions :) Congrats on your move, and welcome to the neighborhood :)

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V.M.

answers from Chicago on

P.:
I live in Oak park and love the Lincoln school district. It has been known as the best school district in OP. I have a 2nd grader who has been in this school since Kindergarten and I've loved it. There is a lot of parental involvement, great teachers, a forward-thinking community. In general, I could never leave this community while my child is in school because of how I feel about the school. Yes, there are things I would change, but at least I feel like I have a hand in this. The parents are smart, concerned and involved in a way that balances things out. My daughter is in the Spanish Immersion program and this is the only immersion program in this district. The community is generally liberal and tolerant--and I hope this is rubbing off on my child. Lastly, you can't get any better than this location- close access to 290, the blue line, the green line and Metra at Lake street. I hope this helps you in your decision-making.
V. M.

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A.

answers from Chicago on

Hi,

I live in Elmhurst. It is not too far from the city and a great place to live in. The school district (district 205) is very good and there are some very very nice private schools.
check out :
http://www.elmhurst.k12.il.us/

There are excellent pre-schools in the area and the park district is awesome with lots of fun stuff for all ages (check out www.epd.org for the park district web site and the brochure with all the classes in it) There are lots of parks and our library is absolutely fantastic. It is just a few years old and has a lounge area, cafe, drive up window where you can call ahead and pick up your books and do any other library transaction, book dropoff slots, great children's area with lots of fun stuff, plus computers galore for kids and adults. Elmhurst has a lot of old and new homes. It is very well located with easy access to most highways (I88, I 290, I294). It takes 20 mins to get to the airport (Ohare) and 25 minutes to get to downtown chicago (not in rush hour traffic ofcourse). If you are in the area, do drive and look around Elmhurst. Its a great community to live in! I have 2 kids (4 and almost 2) and I love it.

Good luck with your decision.
Aarti.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi!
We live in LaGrange and just love it here! It is very family friendly and close to everything. We chose to live here because of the fantastic schools. Good luck with your search.
J.

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F.J.

answers from Chicago on

I too am from Michigan, went to Ferris and have an Unlce in GR. I am sure you will love it here. Naperville is very well known for the best school district around. We live in Bolingbrook and are very happy with it. WE are Bolingbrook 365U school district. The elementary school we go to is Pioneeer and an excellent school. There is also an excellent program for advanced students too. We have a brand new H.S. which I believe is already at capacity but who knows what that will be coming up. Many people buy in Bolingbrook in the Naperville School district to save on housing costs... feel free to pm me if you want more info. I also know a couple really good realtors in the area if you want I can give you their info too.

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L.T.

answers from Chicago on

Hi P.. We live in Lombard and love it. Park View Elementary School is where my children go (or will be going). It is rated the best Elementary School in Lombard (but all the schools are good here). It is located on the North Side of Lombard just South of North Ave. My Children are the same age as yours and one is currently in 2nd Grade. The taxes in Lombard are a little better than the surrounding suburbs. Glen Ellyn is very nice too... it is the next town West of Lombard. They have a cute downtown area that the train from Chicago stops, but the homes are more expensive. Villa Park is the least expensive and located just East of Lombard and just West of Elmhurst. I think Lombard is a nice balance of the two with a great variety of housing. Lombard is also the "Lilac Village." We have a Lilac festival in May. Our Park District is fabulous. Happy to talk more on the subject.... Good Luck on your search!
L.

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