When ever I speak with a buyer client who has children, the most important question they want answered is whether a home is in a good school district. Because of fair housing laws, the question is a difficult one to answer. As real estate agents, we can't steer people to only one neighborhood, but have to make sure we show clients all the options.
Now if a client tells me they only want to search in a certain school district, then it is OK to carry out their wishes. What kind of agent would I be if I sent them to an area they didn't want? The kind that doesn't get paid, that's what.
So when the question of schools comes up when house hunting, the first place to look to determine a homes surrounding schools is the MLS fact sheet. Now, this might come as a shock, but these have been known to be wrong every now and then. The next best place to look is the school district website, which usually has maps, showing what school boundaries your home falls in. When you really want a solid answer, then the last resort is to call the district yourself.
But even when a buyer has done their due diligence and is satisfied with the results, things can change after you move in. Over time, and as little as every few years, school boundaries can change. Case in point, the city of Farmington is building a new high school, completion set for 2009. The old high school is going to become a second middle school for the area, so of course, the school boundaries are going to have to be reset, to accommodate the new schools. Most likely, there are going to be families affected by this change, and children are going to be attending different schools then originally intended.
There are also some elementary schools in Minneapolis and Saint Paul who are talking about closing down certain schools for lack of money. Many families will now have to truck their children many miles to the next school, and may not get a choice on what school their children attend.
Now if you had just moved into the area and were planning on sending your kids to school A, but a year later find out they have to attend school B, upset would probably be a good term to describe your feelings. But as the saying goes, "That's the way the cookie crumbles". So the best advice I can give is to not treat the school boundaries surrounding your home as the word of God...things can change.