My wife and I moved to Milton over one year ago after many hours of deliberation on this very subject. In the end, we both decided that although the rankings were important, we did not want them to sway our decision. Having friends that grew up in the area and moved to the area for its school system was enough validation for us. Much more reliable than a computer generated poll.
If the public system, which is excellent, does not meet ones needs, there are many private options to choose from. We liked that factor. Also, we found Milton to more diverse and this is important to us and for our growing family. 15 minute "T" into the city, the Blue Hills, no big box stores and ease of highway access (93 and 95) in conjunction with the public systems reputation was all we needed to make our decision. It was comforting to see Money Magazines poll last year after we had made the move, however, again, we didn't put much stock into a poll but nice nonetheless.
Best of luck Jeff and if you're looking for a beautiful town with deep roots of community, great schools and close to the city without that city feel, Milton should be at the top of your list .
Here is what I suggest to people:
Drive around and meet people.
Ask those who live there.
Interview the school professionals, coaches, etc.
Park in a neighborhood and see who notices you sitting there in your car.
Walk and talk.
Of course choosing a local real estate pro can help you save a lot of time.
(Not me, I'm on the Cape, but I can help you choose a local pro when you are ready.)
(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
I'm sure the parents in Milton will think they are #1. They should and should any parent in any other district.
I would move beyond the rankings. If the schools have the offerings you want, if the town has the services you need, if you will be satisfied with your commute, then you have found a home and a community. Most of all, how does the home cost.
My wife is a specialist in a top system and is amazed by the amount of kids that leave after 5th grade to go to private schools. Its all about parent choice and expectations.
Thank you so much for the thorough and prompt responses. I absolutely see the appeal of the town, but am still struggling with the evaluation of the school system. I certainly agree that rankings based on things that ultimately may not matter (e.g. student:teacher ratio, # of AP classes) if the quality of the education is there, but I'm hoping for more insight into why there is such a wide disparity between the CNN Money assessment of "One major reason for this stability is the outstanding school system, which boasts six brand-new buildings and offers such rich opportunities as a French immersion program that begins in elementary school." and it being ranked as average on the Boston magazine rankings (#71/135)?
Thanks for the continued help
I'm not a current resident of Milton - but I grew up there & live in neighboring Canton. I attended Milton public schools (K-12) and have not been able to figure out myself why it ranks where it does. I felt it was a very good school system - although that was a number of years ago - but I have friends who still live there & clients who have bought homes there & all seem quite happy with the school system.
I did want to say though that the Boston Magazine rankings have a lot to do with test scores. I know some criteria needs to be used but I'm not sure I agree that test scores are that important. With 3 kids in public schools I find the districts find themselves forced to "teach to the test" and forego other things they want to be teaching. I'd rather a school teach my kids how to think than teach them to pass a test. Also, I find you can talk to different parents all from the same town & they'll all have a different opinion of the schools. A lot depends on the kids, parents, how a particular teacher fits with a kid....so many factors. And I know people who live in some of those very highly rated towns and they feel the schools are overrated (and vice versa).
The other things I tell people to look for are the other things in addition to scores & rankings - depending on what is important to you....look at their athletic programs, their performing arts programs, visual arts, enrichment opportunities....get a feel for the district and see if they also offer the kinds of things you want for your kids.
You're on the right track asking current residents what they think...test scores & rankings are not the be all and end all.
Good luck with your search!