Chris is correct Realtors cannot comment on schools, but the first comment is a bit dramatic. My office is in Fleetwood and I am in Mt Vernon all the time, and I can tell you that the 24 hr gas station around the corner is perfectly safe at 3AM!
Every city in Westchester has areas of varying economics. That is a characteristic of a city! Mount Vernon is no different. We have a new vigorous Mayor who is undoing the mistakes of the past Mayors' 12 years in office. It will take time, but it means that Mt Vernon will head only upwards.
I think let "cooler heads prevail" and I suggest that you speak to people who live/work in the area you are interested in so you can make a reasoned evaluation and make yourself comfortable. Also drive a neighborhood during the day and at night to see what it is like. Make your own judgement!
Unfortunately the only way to the question that you posed that will give you the comfort level you want is for you to do your own due diligence. Strangers' opinions really are not of that much value.
But back to the school system..
Our kids have been attending Traphagen school for the past 3 years. The teachers, I find to be very committed to their kids, very approachable. The fact is however, there are a lot of kids attending with greater problems. What do I mean? Well, I mean if you are concerned because your child may need speech therapy, get in line. There are kids with a lot greater learning disabilities, behavioral and social issues to overcome than your little guy that has trouble saying 's'. If this is your issue prepare to fight tooth and nail to get what you need, or do it yourself at home, which is what the school psychologist told us to do, knowing my husband and I were both employed. The worst kids are in special ed, the rest are in class with your little one.
What is up with Mount Vernon? Well to drive around you will see some beautiful neighborhoods with stately old homes on tree lined streets. But when you get down to the south side you will notice that the pearl of the westchester library system is bordered on one side by DSS and the other side Westhelp apartment buildings. There is metered parking on street but some interesting characters are walking around as you try and enter for story hour with the kids. Upside, they do offer story hour in English and Spanish, so if you are looking for that, its here. You could find catholic mass said in Portuguese here. If you drive around some more you will find a gated Westhelp residence on the southside close to the McDonalds. . These Westhelps are homeless shelters, so yes the county has chosen to place more than a few of these here. . So there is that. If you can demonstrate need your child will get bussing, but otherwise they have done away with elementary school bussing, so prepare to walk or drive. I have to say, while there is diversity in the school, there is a definite street element as well. Sometimes you want to get to know the parents a little bit before you say yes to a birthday party or get together. Our house is close to Pelham and the elementary school there is actually closer than Traphagen by walking. However even if we were able to tuition in to Pelham, they do not allow it, they prefer to save their tax money for the kids that actually live in their district. As others have mentioned here, many people choose to send their children to private school when they get into the upper grades. Our plan is to fix up our home so we can get back what we originally put out for it, sell it , and move. People have suggested catholic school to us, but I cannot see paying thousands for schooling that may be overcrowded because they have closed so many catholic schools, and substandard because you do not have to have a Masters degree to teach in the Catholic school system.
Another problem is that many of the single family homes here in Mount Vernon are rented out. This past spring the city sent us a notice that if you are a homeowner not using the property as your primary residence there will be additional taxes you must pay. So many homeowners are not vested in the community because its not really their community, they are actually residing elsewhere. The school budget usually gets voted down every year.
(I do not have recent statistics, but I do believe teen pregnancy and teenage fatherhood is a big issue in this district).
I have seen the students from AB Davis gather almost every afternoon (I worked on 4th Avenue for a number of years also) to fight each other. Some of them would walk into the stores on 4th Avenue and destroy the merchants goods, and rush off before the police arrived.
There was once incident where one teenager (possibly even young as 12 on his way home from school) made a sexually insultive and explicit comment to me and I asked him whether he was 'dragged up' or 'raised.' (He looked at me and thought I was easy prey) . He left me alone but there are many like others like him.
Unfortunately, it appears as though there is always a new generation (I refuse at this point to call them boys) that is prone to criminal behavior emerging out of this city, all headed to the MV High School. As soon as I could, my children were moved to better high schools in NYC. The students at AB Davis picked on them and stole their things. The children who stole my kids stuff saw nothing wrong with stealing. It was as if they came from a world that totally excluded discipline and love. At that young age, hardness was an integral part of their characters. Do you want this for your child? I hope not.
Here is my take on the city as a whole (Dec 09) which will affect parents quality of life:
1) Petty crime - I have had each of my garbage buckets stolen when my gate was left open. I have had my jewelry stolen appx three months after I moved in. I have had my hubcaps stolen from my driveway recently.
2) I currently have an alarm system, and if it goes off accidentally (high winds, etc) I am scared out of my mind as to whether someone is in my house, and whether my life is in danger.
On a higher level, I recently read that a convicted felon was allowed on the Mount Vernon Fire Department, and there was a fight to retain him by his supporters. If I have a fire, I'd rather take my chances than have this convicted felon anywhere next to me.
I have never had my jewelry returned nor was anyone ever arrested for this crime. Police presence on my street has not increased despite me reporting the jewelry theft (on the same night, several other houses on my block were broken into also).
When I lived a few blocks away in the Bronx, I left my doors open and no one stole my stuff. Not here. Do not buy a house here if you can afford elsewhere. Do not buy a house here if you have children who needs a good school district.
That being said, the school system isn't the greatest because in areas that are culturally diverse sometimes you also find lower income individuals, and unfortunately when that happens funds are diverted to other programs and away from the school system. It is however, offensive and incorrect for Zack to equate low income with criminal behavior.
According to city-data data and fbi statistics, violent crime in Mount Vernon is about double of what it is in the average city in the US. You can keep spouting racism at someone pointing out government statistics, but the fact of the matter is, your schools have more than 1/3 of the students not graduate and the crime in mount vernon is double the average of US cities. Maybe instead of calling people who point out these facts racist, you should spend some time trying to fix the problems, get involved with the schools or a community watch. I'm sure that would be too much effort, and its much easier to just spout hate messages on the internet. So good luck with that.
I find it offensive you imply that I'm a racist for stating the facts that in westchester county, the schools I mentioned consistently rank in the bottom. If you believe that their diversity has something to do with their rankings, then your racist finger pointing is pointing in the wrong direction.
i'm new to this site and i see you've received many answers already to your questions about MV schools. as a RESIDENT and PARENT of mt. vernon, i can tell you that it is a beautiful city with lots of great neighborhoods. as with any city/town/village--some neighborhoods are nicer than others. the same goes for the public schools. we have several outstanding schools--penington-grimes, holmes, lincoln, trapaheagan, graham--just to name a few. these schools are at the elementary level. at the middle school level, the system is faced with a few more challenges--primarily due to classroom size, which are being swiftly addressed. they have a new middle school and are trying other options like k-8, in some of the schools. for the most part, you will find these challenges in many of the areas thru out westchester. just do your research. mt. vernon public schools have produced many great people. their most famous being denzel washington! interestingly, the 3 cities that zack cited as being the worst--mt. vernon, yonkers, and new rochelle, are also the most culturally diverse. perhaps what he is really looking for is a neighborhood with less ethnic flavor.
hope this helped! good luck with the home search.
As far as her education, I know that the schools were not bad education-wise but then again, she was in more honor classes than the average student and my family promotes education.
BTW, thanks Peter for your comment. Although I do not reside in Mount Vernon, my parents do and I think that all cities, NYC as a prime example, have neighborhoods that have varying economics. They live in a nice neighborhood that borders The Bronx and I have always felt safe there at any time of the night!