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Forbes says Elmbrook is near the head of the housing class

District earns spot on magazine's list

April 20, 2010

The Elmbrook School District has been named one of Forbes Magazine's 25 "Best Schools for Your Housing Buck."

Based on standardized test scores, Elmbrook - specifically the city of Brookfield - ranks as having the third-best school system in the country among areas with median home prices of $200,000 to $399,000.

Steve Ponto, Brookfield's new mayor, said he was "delighted" by the ranking.

"It's just another indication of how well, I think, the school district and the city of Brookfield go together," he said.

Ponto noted that Elmbrook, as well as amenities like the city's library and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, help draw prospective residents.

"I know it's very important to the city that we have a strong school district," he said. "It makes us very competitive in attracting new residents."

Getting the word out

Elmbrook plans to use the ranking as part of its ongoing marketing efforts, said Melinda Mueller, district communications manager.

"We're trying our very best to recruit new students, and the city is trying to recruit new residents," she said. "(The Forbes ranking is) a great opportunity for us to help market the school district and the city of Brookfield."

Mueller said Elmbrook officials are in talks with the city over how to jointly promote the entities. "Brookfield is just a great place to learn and live in," she said.

Crunching the numbers

To create the list, Forbes worked with GreatSchools to analyze more than 17,000 cities and towns from 49 states and the District of Columbia. The magazine considered the latest public school student enrollment rates and test scores, and median home price and population data.

The list was narrowed by cutting out towns with fewer than 10,000 residents or fewer than five K-12 public schools. Places with unemployment above 9.3 percent, last year's national average, were left off the list to "highlight those areas where home values were most likely to hold up," the April 6 article says.

Five price categories

Forbes then divided the best school systems in the country into five median home price categories, ranking the top five districts in each category based on standardized test scores. The categories: less than $200,000; $200,000 to $399,000; $400,000 to $599,000; $600,000 to $799,000; and $800,000 or more.

Each district on the list was given an Education Quality Score based on state standardized test scores and the National Assessment for Educational Progress. The top 25 districts ranged from 92.54 to 98.01 on the 100-point scale. Elmbrook's score was 93.94.

Property taxes didn't figure into the ranking, but Forbes did note each district's taxes as a percent of home value. Taxes in the 25 districts on the list ranged from 0.62 percent of home value to 2.24 percent. Eleven of the districts had taxes below the national average, 1.03 percent of home value. In Elmbrook, property taxes are about 1.44 percent of home value.

FYI

To read Forbes Magazine's story "The Best Schools for Your Housing Buck," which features Elmbrook School District, visit http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/05/best-schools-for-your-housing-buck-business-beltway-greatschools.html.

GreatSchools' profile of Elmbrook can be found at http://www.greatschools.org/wisconsin/brookfield/?s_cid=forbes.

AT A GLANCE

Forbes Magazine's top five "Best Schools for Your Housing Buck" for school districts with average home prices ranging $200,000 to $399,000:

1. Edina, Minn.

2. Zionsville, Ind.

3. Brookfield, Wis.

4. South Burlington, Vt.

5. Germantown, Wis.

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