West Philadelphia schools activist Amara Rockar alerted us to the newest initiative by the embattled School District of Philadelphia, which is a serious improvement to its website. The new tool, School Finder, has a map that clearly demarcates school catchments—which are highly relevant to prospective home buyers and real estate agents.
A disclaimer next to the School Finder map reads:
These Feeder Patterns and School Catchment area maps are intended to be a guide for parents and guardians to identify their child’s designated neighborhood school. Students are to enroll in the neighborhood school which serves the legal residence of the parent or legal guardian. Please do not make a decision to move or to purchase or rent a home or apartment based on these charts alone. Okay, perhaps home buyers with children won't use these maps as the only tool to make decisions about where to move, but we can imagine a scenario in which the majority of the parents who look at the map will be those who are considering a move rather than those who want to know which school their kids are supposed to go to.
The last sentence of the disclaimer is quite a warning for home buyers, though, and seems to be available for much subtextual analysis:
Catchment/boundary areas as well as feeder patterns are subject to change to reflect changing neighborhood demographics. Rockar also points out that the map doesn't yet take into account the eight schools that'll be closed in September or the 40 planned to close next September—so that'll shift "feeder patterns" as well.
Before School Finder was available, Rockar tells us, "You had to go to the SDP website, hit 'schools,' then select a school to go to the school page (you would have to already know what your catchment school is, then select 'boundary map' until 'additional information' to then be shown a PDF of the catchment for only that school." Ew.