This topic can get pretty heated because the town is 25% white, and 75% persons of color. Unfortunately there is that undercurrent all the time in Mount Vernon. That being said, after living here for 6 years, I do feel that the town could benefit from just a little "buzz". What makes Mount Vernon so different from Brooklyn that seems to be enjoying a bohemian renaissance of sorts right now. Mount Vernon is just as close to the city, by my count there are 3 accesible train stations depending on where you live, and its very near to the parkways. Its probably closer to midtown than some parts of Brooklyn. There is diversity in Mount Vernon that is worth celebrating. There is a large Brazilian population, West Indian population, black population. You can get good Indian,Asian Fusion, Cajun, West Indian, Southern cuisine here. Your child will grow up knowing that people come in all different colors.
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.