I'm not a real estate agent so I can share my opinion about what is a good area on Staten Island. Most of Staten Island is great. School and especially neighborhood pride runs deep on Staten Island so you'll be hard pressed to get a truly objective answer. That said - the public middle schools and high schools draw their students from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. The private schools are available to you regardless of where you live. Neighborhood safety can be determined by various sources - read the Advance, check out police dept websites. But the best might be to drive around during the day and at night and get a feel for the area. Look to see if windows have metal grates on the lower level windows (some people put them on upper windows if they have toddlers & are afraid of accidents). Look to see if the street is clean, litter free, and yards and houses are maintained - they don't have to the biggest, most expensive houses - just - do the people in the neighborhood respect each other and their property?
Some degree of objectivity regarding school performances can be found at the NYC board of education government websites.
My house for sale is in Manor Heights. It is in a great school district - with Wagner H.S. within walking distance but not so close you get the noise and traffic. It is convenient to the expressway and mass transit. We have nice neighborhood stores - Chinese Rest.,Pizza,Deli,Walgreens,Bakeries.Dry Cleaners. It is safe; it is a neighborhood where you know your neighbors because people still greet eachother and walk around the neighborhood. The church, synagogue, and new JCC recreation center are within walking distance. It's on high ground - so you don't have water in your basement. The yard is easy to maintain and you have a view thru yards to the Greenbelt. Between the landscaped trees in the yard & the Greenbelt view, the fall foliage reminds you why you live on Staten Island. The College of Staten Island is not far so you can enjoy their concerts or eventually make it an easy commute for your son.
Glad you're thinking about buying on Staten Island - it really is a good place to live. I moved away and still miss it and the friends I made there. No matter where I live Staten Island will alway be 'home'.