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Study: Switch To Year-Round Schools Hurt Some Wake Home Values

A picture of a sale sign in front of a home.
Flickr, Creative Commons
Research suggests home values have suffered in Wake County since year-round schooling was introduced.

The switch to a year-round calendar for 22 schools in Wake County may have hurt some home prices, according to a new study out of Elon University and RTI International. It looked at how home prices changed after Wake made a controversial decision in 2007 to convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar.

Study co-author Katy Rouse says homes assigned to year-round schools saw a 1.5 to 2 percent drop in sale price, regardless of other factors like neighborhood or school test scores.

"Even controlling for all those differences, we still find a small effect," Rouse said.

Rouse co-wrote the study with RTI International researcher Brooks Depro.

The Wake school board put 22 schools on the multi-track year-round calendar in 2007 to address overcrowding. Students on this nontraditional calendar are in school the same number of days as students on the traditional calendar, but instead of a long summer break, students have many shorter breaks dispersed throughout the year.

Wake is opening its first year-round school since 2012 next summer.

Despite the study's findings, Wake County relator Bill Fletcher says school calendar hasn't been an issue in his ten years selling homes.

"In my practice, I’ve not seen disparate interests from parents based on calendar," Fletcher said. "What I have seen is a commitment to find schools that are providing a great education for their children regardless of the calendar."

Fletcher notes the study tracked home sales during a particularly volatile time for the Wake County school system. Parents upset with the calendar conversion protested the decision and challenged it in state Supreme Court, where it was eventually upheld.

Fletcher also says a 1.5 to 2 percent hit to a home's sale value is a relatively small price penalty.

"If you look at a $200,000 house, you're looking at a $3,000 variation in pricing, which could be a result of the fact that you haven't upgraded the carpet or the kitchen appliances, or the house needs to be painted," he said.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
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