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Schools in the Charleston Area

Schools impact home values. About 50% of home buyers are willing to pay more to be in the school district of their choosing. Buyers are also willing to sacrifice amenities and home size to achieve this. 

As you consider purchasing a home in the Charleston area, you may be concerned about finding the right school for your kids. Schools are also very important for home values so you do not need to have school-aged children to be concerned about schools. Studies show that schools are a critical factor in how well your home will re-sell and for how much. So, no matter your stage in life, you really do need to give schools some consideration as you make a buying decision. Plus, good schools provide community stability which is important for every homeowner, home buyer, and home seller. 

I like to point out to my clients that some of the perceived relative strength of school districts in the Greater Charleston area is a bit suspect.

We have three outstanding school districts in Greater Charleston: Charleston County School District, Berkeley County School District, and Dorchester II School District. As you interview locals, you may hear that Dorchester II is the best of the three. I would suggest that is an oversimplification at best.

While local opinion is highly influential in its' impact on home valuations, the actual operational outcomes may be very different. Plus, often opinions lag behind reality when schools are aggressively pushing for improvements. Over many years, Dorchester II garnered most of the accolades among Charleston schools and much local public attention as well. This district paid teachers more, slowly skimming the cream, the most experienced and best qualified,  from the available talent pool. Dorchester II was more proactive in facilities improvements as well. Taxes were slightly higher for homeowners but they were well rewarded by having coveted schools and improved resale values for their homes. This history is the underlying basis for the opinions of many locals today that suggest you should buy in Dorchester II if schools are important to you.

However, over the past 25 years, things have shifted - significantly. Charleston County and Berkeley County have both made huge investments and have rocketed upward, achieving many, many awards for their successes. These two counties are now clearly excellent places for education. While Dorchester II continues to be excellent, it is now just one of three solid choices.  All have invested heavily in new schools and in attracting top talent. All have schools envied by much of the nation. 

In looking at the three districts, Dorchester II is the smallest geographically, leading to less variation among schools. This makes home shopping a bit easier than in Charleston County or Berkeley County where the choices are more varied. It just requires less homework to buy in Dorchester II.

But, if you are focused on the best of the best, be sure to consider both Charleston and Berkeley as well. Charleston, for example, is the 10th largest school district in the nation, so the variation in schools is wide. The two area flagship schools, Charleston County School of the Arts and Academic Magnet High School are ranked high nationally, with Academic Magnet reaching the top spot for magnet schools nationwide.

Overall, the Greater Charleston Area, with its three districts, has excellent schools. You can find anything you might be looking for in a public school in this area.  In addition, if you are looking for a great private school education, you can find that easily here as well!

How should you evaluate schools? The primary issues you need to think about are: 

  1. Reported outcomes - how do schools score on testing, graduation rates, year-over-year gains?
  2. Ratios and spending - what are the student/teacher ratios and what is the per-pupil spending?
  3. Public reviews - what do parents, teachers, and students say online
  4. Professional opinions - what do research and reporting by media say? What do researchers report?
  5. Commitment - what is the local interest and commitment to improving schools?
  6. Physical conditions - how are schools maintained, updated and replaced?
  7. Safety - what is the recent history of school safety and what protections are in place?
  8. Access - how easy is it to get to the schools you are interested in from your home - distance, roads, choke points (a real issue for magnet schools that serve a large area)
  9. Arts - how committed are the schools to the arts? This is an area of growing interest as data shows arts improve outcomes. Home buyers are taking note.
  10. Administration - how easy is it to interact with the administration, especially the onsite principal?
  11. Size – what are the sizes of the schools? Small high schools perform better but large high schools have more offerings 

charleston school graduation

Graduating class from Charleston County School of the Arts

Remember, schools are key for many people looking for a home in Charleston or anywhere. Even if you do not have school-aged children, the quality of schools should be important to you because they impact the value of the local workforce in attracting new jobs, they impact the value of your home, and they affect the quality of the community. School should be factored into your search. I can help. I taught in the public schools here for several years. My children graduated from local public schools. My wife is a teacher in a local the public school today. As you begin looking for a home to purchase in Charleston, Summerville or nearby, give me a call and I will share my experiences with the area public schools. 


Chris DeLoach - Your Charleston Realtor


The Top 10 high schools in South Carolina according to US News:

  1. Charleston School of the Arts, Charleston
  2. Dutch Fork High, Irmo
  3. Wade Hampton High, Greenville
  4. Hilton Head Island High, Hilton Head
  5. Wando High, Mt. Pleasant
  6. Bluffton High, Bluffton
  7. Chapin High, Chapin
  8. Mauldin High, Mauldin
  9. Fort Mill High, Fort Mill

Academic Magnet High School, Charleston (previously at #1 - no longer rated by US News because it has too high of a percentage of above-average income families represented). 

bishop england high school daniel island sc

Here are a few of the private schools in the Charleston Area

  • Addlestone Hebrew Academy
  • Ashley Hall
  • Bishop England High School
  • Charles Towne Montessori School
  • The Charleston Catholic School
  • Charleston Collegiate School
  • Charleston Day School
  • Christ Our King Stella Maris School
  • Daniel Island Academy First Baptist School of Charleston
  • Devine Redeemer Catholic School
  • First Baptist Church School of Mt Pleasant
  • James Island Christian School
  • Mason Preparatory School
  • Northside Christian School
  • Northwood Academy
  • Pinewood Preparatory Schools
  • Porter-Gaude School
  • St. Paul’s Academy
  • Summerville Catholic School

Charleston also offers outstanding college choices 

  • College of Charleston
  • The Citadel
  • Charleston School of Law
  • Charleston Southern University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Trident Technical College
  • Plus many extension colleges

college of charleston

 Call me with any questions you have about the local schools.