Making lemonade

There is a saying that goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It goes something like that. I am sure I could find the exact quote if I wanted to, but you get what I am trying to imply here.

In our search for a place to live in the Rockwall, Texas area we were getting a lot of lemons. Our search was becoming fruitless. It was starting to get very frustrating. We were just not finding what we needed or wanted.

We made some radical decisions.

Kyle announced to me that the IB (International Baccalaureate) Program was probably not something he was interested in continuing once we moved. This makes me both sad and elated at the same time. Do not get me wrong, I am happy that he has made the decision. It was his decision to make. I am just sad that he has taken so long to make the decision and academically he has suffered so much because of it. We were advised in our last Stake Conference at church to “let our kids do hard things.” I kind of smiled a crooked smile. I was ahead of the game there. Kyle had already been doing “hard things” and now we were in a situation where we were needing to help encourage him to find something that was still hard but maybe he would do better at – be more successful at. I am not going to say that Kyle’s dance with the IB Program has been a complete and dismal failure, but it has not been a complete success either. The program is very rigorous and for Kyle it is just too much. He can do the level of work, it is just too much for him to keep up with all at one time.

So his decision to withdraw from the program was happy news for me because it would give us more options. Our place of residence was no longer going to be dictated by a program in the schools. We had options.

We could look elsewhere.

Suddenly the entire Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was opened back up to us.

I sat down with the TEA school district region maps and got to work. There are 2 regions that cover the DFW area – Region 10 and Region 11. Unfortunately, I had to redo a little bit of research because most of our stuff is packed away and I had not prepared for needing any of this information again so I had no idea where to look for it. So with my region maps I located where Ben’s offices were. He has the location where his office is currently and where they are building the new facility. I drew a circle on the two maps that encompassed what I thought was roughly a 1 hour drive from the office(s).

I chose 1 hour arbitrarily mostly. That was roughly the drive time from the office(s) to Rockwall, TX and I was not 100% ready to give up on the area so I wanted to keep it in the circle. Also keeping the circle large would give us the most options on where we could reside. The circle on the 2 maps actually encompassed a large geographic area when you think about the DFW metroplex, so even drawing the circles was a guess at best. I sat there and put in the city center or school district administration building location into Google Maps and mapped the drive time to the two offices. Once I reached the districts that were at the 1 hour mark on the circle, I drew a line thus narrowing the field. Anything outside of the hour drive time were removed as options.

Of course this left a large amount of options based on that criteria alone. I knew, however, that there were things that were immediately going to remove school districts from the list. Any school district that had any of the following items was removed.

  • Mega schools
  • Inner city 

I know that might sound like weird specifications to use to narrow down the search, but I really was not interested in certain school districts and had to eliminate them.

Honestly, I am not interested in putting my kids in schools that are larger than what they are currently in. Kyle attends a high school that is nearly 4,000-4,200 students. I am NOT interested in a school that is pushing 6,000 students. NOT INTERESTED!!! I do not care how well they are ranked in the various “best of…” rankings, I am not interested in them. So those districts that high schools that were larger than Klein Oak High School received “mega schools” status and were immediately removed from the options list.

Inner city schools were your big districts like Fort Worth ISD and Dallas ISD. I do not know that there is anything wrong with these school districts, but I’ve lived near an “inner city” district before and I have no desire to do it again or put my children in one. So they were removed.

By simply making these broad assumptions and thus removals, I was able to narrow the search field down to 33 school districts.

The most important thing that was left to me was whether or not the school had orchestra or not. We live in Texas after all and there is nothing more important in Texas than Friday Night Lights and Marching Band. I, however, have kids that are not into football or marching bad. They play stringed instruments. They are 100% orchestra bred. A school district without orchestra was not going to work for us. So I started researching whether or not the school district had an orchestra program or not. If it did not, it was removed.

By the end of this exercise, I had my list narrowed down to 15 school districts.

That is right, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I found in my research 15 school districts that were going to be remotely acceptable to us. This included Rockwall ISD. See, I had not removed it as an option at this point.

That was, however, still a lot of school districts to research further. What was right for the kids? I needed a district that had a good computer science and/or robotics program. That is what Kyle has expressed interest in when we were looking at Rockwall ISD. That narrowed down the search to only 10 school districts. The fact that we could not afford to live in any of the available houses in 2 more of the school districts on the list removed them from the list.

How do we narrow down the list further?

I sat there looking at these districts on the map. They were all over the place. We had some coverage of the DFW metroplex. The thought kept coming to me – time. If we are doing this, then limit your time. So I looked at all the options and any school district that was more than a 45 minute drive was removed.

That left us with about 5 school districts to focus on.

Then I started searching for houses. That was still a large area, but they were fairly close together area wise.

And we looked and looked and looked…

Through the natural process of looking at houses online, it naturally narrowed itself down to 2 school districts. Once I looked in person, it resulted in a single school district.

We fell in love with a particular neighborhood…

The problem?

Oh yes, there was a problem. We still were not finding what we wanted and needed. That was the problem. We were still having fruitless results.

So we started looking at the option to build a new house…more seriously…

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