6-20-14 – Study Shows School Choice = Higher Home Values

Posted by Rob Roper images

How can you add an average of $8,450 (or 5.9%) to the value of your home without doing a thing to it? Close you local public school and become one of Vermont’s (currently) 93 school choice “tuition towns.”

A recent study led by a former University of Vermont professor looked into how Vermont’s unique, century-and-a-half old school choice system effects real estate prices for comparable homes in tuition vs. non-tuition districts. Families in tuition towns – towns that do not operate a government-run public school – can send their children to any public or approved, non-sectarian independent school of their choice with publicly funded tuition following the child.

For example, families in Northeast Kingdom tuition towns can choose at the high school level between independent town academies, St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute, smaller independent schools such as the East Burke School, Burke Mountain Academy (specializing in educating and training winter athletes), the Cornerstone School (focusing on kids with special needs), or a number of public schools such as the Concord School, Lake Region HS, North Country HS , Hazen Union HS, Danville HS, Canaan HS, Littleton HS (NH), and White Mountain Regional School (NH), all within reasonable driving distance. Of course, these parents can choose any approved independent or public school regardless of geography, and some have used their tuition dollars to educate children out of state or even internationally.

And this kind of opportunity has real value. The researchers looked at of 2,933 single family residential transactions to “investigate the valuation implications of Vermont’s tuition voucher program.” They concluded:

…we find robust evidence of statistically and economically important price premiums accruing to properties located in jurisdictions offering school vouchers. These premiums range from 3-16% depending upon model specification, and are robust to alternative definitions of viable commuting distances and minimum school performance (standardized test score) thresholds.

We conclude that educational choice opportunities (in this case school vouchers) increase residential housing values. We also conclude that the voucher programs are more valuable (as measured by property values) when there are a larger number of alternative school choices available. This statement could be rearticulated accordingly: the absence of vouchers (and of viable alternative schools where those vouchers can be used) depresses property values.

So, given all the recent evidence that school choice leads to better educational outcomes for kids, better parental satisfaction, lower costs to taxpayers and now better value for homeowners, why is our legislature doing everything in it can to quash this system rather than expand it?  Clearly, they’re not looking out for us.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jim bulmer June 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Again, I remind your readers that facts never get in the way of the folks and their allies in Montpelier when it comes to pushing through their agenda.

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