What is the school district in Mt. Vernon New York like?

Asked by David Sandstrom, 48146 Mon Apr 14, 2008

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Lee, , 10552
Wed Nov 18, 2009
I am a resident of Mt Vernon NY for the past 3 years, and white I might add, and I am actually quite offended by Zack and his characterization of the town. His facts aren't facts at all, the crime rate is hardly out of control, and I have never felt anything but safe while doing all of my normal activities such as shopping and getting gas. I checked the crime statistics prior to moving, and while they are a bit higher than a totally whitebread neighborhood, this is hardly the ghetto. It is truly culturally diverse, there are plenty of white people mixed in with black and hispanic.

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.
3 votes
Anonymous, Home Owner, Mount Vernon, NY
Mon Aug 1, 2011
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.
2 votes
I have been a teacher for about one third of my life and participates for the most part in school board meetings although I have not been there in quite a while. Giving up on the administration is part of the problem for me. They all are Dr. Something and most of the teaching staff have Masters Degree like what you are looking for to teach your child but they have no passion or talent or mere interest in the students that are in their care. They have simple given up on them because it is Mt Vernon. When the school administration and the city's administration does not behave like they are smarter than a fifth grader although you must call them Dr so and so and commissioner this and that its all about titles, me myself and I. One teacher I know told me that she came from New York School system because she got $20,000 more in pay and it is bad she says and she is a Dr. Something too, but she has to keep the mouth shut. Trust me it is all about Dollars and cents and Power Struggle.
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Kbh, Home Buyer, Mount Vernon, NY
Fri Aug 1, 2008
hi david,
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.
2 votes
Peter A Harr…, , 10708
Mon Apr 14, 2008

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.
2 votes
receipt353, Home Owner, Mount Vernon, NY
Fri Apr 4, 2014
The North end of Mount Vernon is spectacular. The streets that border Bronxville are undistinguishable from Bronxville. Big houses on big lots of land. You can walk to Bronxville and take advantage of the town and not pay the ridiculous taxes. People in the north part of Mount Vernon are young families looking to move into Bronxville for the public schools, families that send their children to the Hill schools in Riverdale, or Hacklley in Tarrytown or wealthy empty-nesters who are sick of paying the taxes in Bronxville and still want a big house. The commute to Manhattan is 30 min by Metro-North. Very safe because the Mount Vernon police do not mess around.
1 vote
Kbh, Home Buyer, Mount Vernon, NY
Tue Aug 5, 2008
zack, it was this statement, "Mount Vernon can also be a scary place to be in if you're not in the areas that border Bronxville" that clued me in.
1 vote
D Martin, Home Buyer, Cornwall, NY
Wed May 21, 2008
My sister is a product of the Mount Vernon school system and she went on to Iona College for her BS and on to Cornell University for her DVM. (I went through the NYC school system.) I know for a fact that she was unhappy when she attended the Mt. Vernon schools due to fellow classmates. Many of the children she encountered were cruel because she was "different" than the others.

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!
1 vote
Louisl, Home Owner, Yonkers, NY
Fri Dec 23, 2011
Southern Mount Vernon is a shi+hole where people live like animals. Stay away from that place.
0 votes
Residentking…, , New York, NY
Wed Dec 23, 2009
I live in Mt Vernon currently - the only reason I have moved/ stayed here is because it is cheaper to be here than in another 'better' neighborhood. My children graduated from the elementary and middle schools, but did not attend the high school. It is not a school district conducive to competitive learning or offering great educational opportunities. The administrators get bogged down with the students quality of life issues which leads to resources being diverted to take care of 'immediate' problems.

(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.
0 votes
Zack, , Westchester County, NY
Sun Aug 10, 2008
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.
0 votes
Mc, , 10708
Sun Aug 3, 2008
Hi I'm new to this site but I hope I can answer. I live in Yonkers in but in Bronxville PO, right near the Fleetwood Metro North Station. I've been here nearly 15 years. I can tell you from what I've seen in that time that it depends on exactly where in Mt. Vernon you are. Most people in Fleetwood for example send their children to public schools through elementary then for junior and senior high send them to private schools either in Westchester or in the Bronx. The early trains are packed with students from Fordham Prep, Cardinal Hayes, etc. I would say check to make sure before you buy which elementary school your kids would be going to and consider sending them to private school after that. The better elementary schools are in Fleetwood and basically almost anything that is in a non-Mt. Vernon PO.
0 votes
Zack, , Westchester County, NY
Sat Aug 2, 2008
Wow kbh. So you imply I'm a racist for summarizing widely available information on school reports. Check the westchester county magazine annual reports. Look at nystart.gov. Mount Vernon high school is checking in with a whopping 64% graduation rate. I don't think high school graduation is what Meatloaf was talking about when he sung "Two out of three ain't bad". I'm pretty sure that class size doesn't account for 1/3 of your students not graduation. Plus checking the nystart stats on class size, they don't break 25, which while crowded, isn't enormously so.

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.
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Mon Apr 14, 2008
Hi, Zach hit the naile on the head, we as realtors cannot comment but can prvide you with resources. Please feel free to visit my website and search school reports, http://www.ChristopherPagli.com. I have sold a number of properties in Fleetwood.

0 votes
Zack, , Westchester County, NY
Mon Apr 14, 2008
Realtors can't comment on school districts for fear of steering so they'll have you check out greatschools.net and psk12 etc and other sites. The best summary of the Mount Vernon schools would be lousy. They're consistently ranked in the bottom of the county rankings with Yonkers and New Rochelle. Mount Vernon can also be a scary place to be in if you're not in the areas that border Bronxville etc and its late at night. I haven't felt uncomfortable while in my car at night there but I'd try to make it further into the county before stopping for gas.
0 votes
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