Somerville, Cambridge and Watertown have something in common: They're among the "least attractive school districts" in America, according to Trulia, a real estate website.
The Trulia Trends blog looked at Census data from 2010 for school districts across the county. It compared the number of pre-schoolers (kids aged 0-4) to the number of elementary school-aged kids (ages 5 to 9).
School districts with more elementary school-aged kids than pre-schoolers were deemed to be "attractive" school districts—the blog surmised families with kids were moving into those districts.
Districts with more pre-schoolers than elementary school kids were deemed less attractive—the Census data indicated families with young kids seemed to be moving out before they entered elementary school.
The country's most attractive school district, Saratoga Union Elementary School District in California, for instance, had 2.38 elementary school kids for every 1 pre-schooler.
Somerville, on the other hand, had 0.67 elementary school kids for every 1 pre-schooler (or 67 for every 100, so we're not pretending to chop kids in two).
Watertown had the same ratio Somerville, and Cambridge was nearly the same, with 68 elementary-school kids for every 100 pre-schoolers.
The "least attractive" school district in the country, Hoboken, N.J. had a ratio of 39 elementary school kids per 100 pre-schoolers.
Here's Trulia's list of the "America's least attractive school districts":
Price per SQFT
Metro areaHoboken City School District, NJ
New YorkOrchard Elementary School District, CA
SF Bay AreaEdgewater Borough School District, NJ
New YorkAlexandria City Public Schools, VA
Washington, DCPalisades Park Borough School District, NJ
New YorkWatertown School District, MA
BostonSomerville School District, MA
BostonSunnyvale Elementary School District, CA
SF Bay AreaMaplewood-Richmond Heights School District, MO
Saint LouisCambridge School District, MA
Don't confuse "least attractive" with "bad"
Before sending an angry letter to Trulia, it would be wise to remember that "least attractive" doesn't necessarily mean "worse." Rather, it's just an observation of population trends from the Census.
Trulia noted a few things about the trends. "Attractive" school districts had some things in common, including housing affordability and low population density.
Somerville's housing prices are relatively high, and it's the densest city in New England. In Cambridge, which shares some of the trends with Somerville, housing prices are even higher.
"Many great university towns have low ratios of school-age to pre-school-age kids, including Cambridge and Berkeley," the Trulia blog notes.
Meanwhile, the city of Somerville has reported rising enrollment in the school district, driven mostly by elementary school-aged kids, according Somerville's mayor, who talked about the trend when presenting they city budget in June.
As Trulia notes, "Since the Census is a snapshot in time, we can’t track individual families to see whether and when they actually moved to a different school district, but the ratio does reveal their overall movement patterns."
You can read the post here. It includes links to the full list of school districts across the country.