Why your home address determines your Fairfax County schools assignment

When Vicky and Ralph moved to Fairfax County VA due to Vicky’s military job, they moved into a nice home for their family.   During the school year, they realized that another elementary school was better suited for their needs than the one their kids currently attended.   But their current home was outside of their desired Fairfax school boundary.Fairfax County has strict school boundaries

What are school boundaries?

A school boundary (sometimes referred to as a school district) is a geographic representation of a school’s attendance area.  In Fairfax County VA, every residential address is assigned an elementary, middle and high school.  In this manner, all the home addresses which are assigned to a specific school are within that school’s boundary.

In Fairfax County VA, the school boundaries are strictly enforced, which is why choosing the right place to live is important.

If you want your children to attend a specific Fairfax school, choose your next home’s location carefully

While most schools in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) system are very good, there might be one that you particularly have chosen for your children to attend. If you want your children to go to that specific school, you’ll have to live within that school’s attendance area.

How can you ensure that your children will go to the Fairfax school you want?

If you are relocating to the area, along with looking for homes, you’ll want to research Fairfax County schools and select a few top choices.  Once you have your schools selected, be sure to visit the official FCPS boundary information system.  By using this system, you can double-check that the addresses for the homes that you are interested in belong inside of your top schools’ boundaries.

What do you do when the homes you like do not belong inside of the boundary of any of your top Fairfax County schools?

Surely there are exceptions to the boundaries?

Yes, there are a few exceptions, usually related to special programs that are available at certain Fairfax County schools.  However, if you are interested in a special program for your child, it will be easier to already belong to that school district than to try to apply from outside the boundary and actually get a spot in that program (some of the special programs are highly competitive).

Let’s see how Vicky and Ralph fared out in the end…

Vicky and Ralph realized the importance of their home address

After realizing that the home they were living in was outside of the Fairfax school boundary that they wanted their kids to attend, Vicky and Ralph did some research.  They found that the only way to have their kids switch schools was to switch homes.  They considered this an extreme decision, but in the end they chose to move so that their kids could go to their desired Fairfax school.

Let’s summarize:

In Fairfax County, where you live determines which school your kids go to

  • Fairfax County Schools boundaries are strictly enforced
  • When you are moving into Fairfax County VA, be sure to do your research and choose a few top schools first – before falling in love with a house outside those schools’ boundaries
  • It’s easier to live inside of a favorite Fairfax school boundary than to try to apply for an exception.

Along with the school boundary concept, Fairfax County organizes its schools into “Pyramids”.  Don’t miss the next article on How Fairfax County schools pyramids affect your home search

Your turn, what do you think?

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