Best 9 School Districts in Florida to Buy A Home

School Districts in Florida

Best 9 School Districts in Florida to Buy A Home

The National Association of Realtors® released a survey recently that stated 24% of home buyers said school quality was important to them while looking for their new home. Luckily, Florida is a top-tier state for education, ranked no. 3 in the nation by US News and World Report. Over the decades, the state has made significant strides in accountability, reading, math, and graduation rates.

Still, schools in Florida vary significantly, so if you have children, you must find one that will suit their individual needs.

Florida's school districts are tied to their counties. Since there are 66 counties, 66 districts serve 2.8 million children. That doesn't include the many private school options parents have. There are no municipal or charter school districts.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and interrupted educational quality in 2020, Florida's Department of Education (FDOE) paused releasing school district grades and data and made it optional for 2021. It resumed in 2022.

We looked at its 2022 released data on college performance readiness, state testing results, and graduation rates for our evaluation. We also looked at data from independent evaluators like

According to this data and independent feedback, here are the best FL school districts to buy a home.

St Johns County

The St. Johns County district has Florida's top-ranked high school and several highly rated elementary, middle, and charter schools. The school district has never earned less than an "A" rating since 2010, even as it served over 55,000 students a year across 49 schools.

St Johns operates:

  • 18 Elementary schools grades K-5 
  • 7 K-8 academies
  • 7 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 8 High schools grades 9-12
  • 1 Technical College
  • 2 K-12 alternative schools
  • 3 Charter Schools
  • 2 Juvenile Justice Facilities

It had a graduation rate of 95 percent, and its average SAT score is also the highest at 1140. The student-teacher ratio breaks down by grade, with PK-3 at 1:14 and grades 9-12 at 1:19. Its test scores are frequently the best or near the top in the state across reading, math, science, and EOC in all grade levels.

The high schools operate a diverse selection of specialized academies. For example, Bertram Trail High has a Design Academy, while Nease High has an Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. Students get a jump start in all kinds of industries, from biotechnology, architecture, healthcare, aerospace, IT, Law, culinary arts, and much more.

Located in the northeast corner of Florida, just south of Jacksonville, St. Johns County is one of the state's fastest-growing areas. It's also one of its most affluent: the median household income here is $83,803, and the poverty rate is 8.1%. Around 292,000 people live in St. Johns County. SmartAsset ranked it the eighth wealthiest county in Florida based on median home values and per capita income.

Cities in St. Johns include St. Augustine, Butler Beach, Flagler Estates, Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Beach, and Sawgrass.

Sarasota County

The Sarasota County district has Florida's second-ranked high school and several highly rated elementary, middle, and charter schools. Like St. Johns County, its state grade has never been below an "A."

Sarasota operates:

  • 22 K-5 elementary schools
  • 1 K-8 academy
  • 4 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 7 High schools grades 9-12
  • 2 Technical and Adult Education Centers
  • 2 Special Schools for Exceptional Students
  • 2 Special Alternative Programs
  • 13 Charter Schools

Sarasota had a graduation rate of 93.4 percent with an average SAT score of 1220. Its test scores are consistently high in all grade levels in reading, math, science, and EOC. The student-teacher ratio averages 1:15, with 42,600 enrolled students.

High schools offer unique programs like the Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma Program and the Florida Virtual School for Exceptional Students. Pine View School for the Gifted is consistently a top-ranked school in the state, and it's free as a charter school. Its elementary and middle schools were the state's no. 3 and the high school no. 2 on the 2022 US News and World Report rankings. The high school also ranked no. 24 nationally.

Sarasota is located on Florida's Gulf Coast, about an hour south of Tampa. The county is home to about 447,000 people with a median household income of $64,644 and a poverty rate of 8.7%. SmartAsset ranked it the ninth wealthiest county in Florida based on median home values and per capita income.

Cities in Sarasota County include Sarasota, North Port, Venice, Longboat Key, Osprey, Lakewood Ranch, and Englewood. 

Seminole County

The Seminole County district is one of Florida's largest, with over 67,000 students. It's earned Premier National School District recognition and has several highly rated elementary, middle, and charter schools. Its state grade has been below an "A" only once, in 2016. It's also one of the state's most diverse school districts by demographics.

On average, 95% of students graduate, which is higher than the state average of 90%. The district's average SAT score is 1190. There are 19 students per teacher on average.

Seminole operates:

  • 37 K-5 elementary schools 
  • 12 middle school grades 6-8
  • 9 High school grades 9-12
  • 6 Special Centers
  • 4 Charter Schools
  • 1 Virtual School

The district also offers programs of emphasis to help students focus on specific industries during their high school years. Classes are offered in bioscience technology, culinary arts, aviation, renewable energy, forensic science, and more. It also runs Magnet and Choice schools: six elementary, four middle schools, and five high schools. SCPS is ranked no. 1 for STEM education and has a 66% pass rate on AP examinations.

US News and World Report ranks the charter Choices in Learning School as the no. 19 elementary school in the state out of over 4,000 schools. 

Seminole County is located in central Florida, just outside of Orlando. The county has a population of about 470,000, with a median household income of $70,297 and a poverty rate of 8%. The cities in Seminole County are Sanford, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, Oviedo, Casselberry, Wekiwa Springs, and Geneva.

Okaloosa County

The Okaloosa County School District is Florida's fastest growing with a rate of 6%. In 2022, the district earned an "A" state grade, last earning a "B" in 2013. The FDOE named it an Academically High-Performing School District, one of 14 in the 2021-2022 school year.

It also has an impressive number of National Blue Ribbon Schools and was a School System of Distinction by worldwide evaluator Cognia. Its Okaloosa Stemm Center was the no. 1 middle school in Florida, according to US News and World Report in 2022.

Okaloosa serves over 27,000 students across 58 schools. It operates:

  • 23 Elementary schools
  • 12 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 8 High schools grades 9-12
  • 7 K-8/K-12 community schools
  • 1 STEM Academy
  • 5 Charter Schools
  • 1 Technical College
  • 1 Alternative School

The high school programs include continuing education options in a range of industries. Students can get a head start in advanced manufacturing, IT, healthcare, childcare, robotics, and other areas.

Okaloosa County is located in Florida's panhandle, the state's northwest region. The county has just over 213,000 people, with a median household income of $64,373 and a poverty rate of 10%.

Cities in Okaloosa County include Crestview, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Laurel Hill, Niceville, and Shalimar.

Collier County

The Collier County Public Schools District has a long history dating back to its founding in 1913. The district has carried an "A" state grade for five years as of 2022. 

The district serves about 48,000 students across 63 schools. It operates:

  • 31 Elementary schools
  • 10 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 8 High schools grades 9-12
  • 1 K-12 community schools
  • 9 Charter Schools
  • 1 Alternative School
  • 1 Virtual School programs
  • 2 Technical Colleges

All schools are Cognia-accredited. High school students can focus on a range of industries through special programs. These include medical sciences, aviation, media and communications, law and government, and more. The district also is proud of its 1:1 technology ratio, with over 54,000 networked computers.

Collier County is located in southwest Florida on the state's Gulf Coast. The county has a population of 385,980 people with a median household income of $70,217 and a poverty rate of 10%. SmartAsset ranked it the second-wealthiest county in Florida based on median home values and per capita income.

The cities in Collier County are Marco Island, Naples, Immokalee, Ave Maria, and Big Cypress.

Clay County

Clay County Schools carries an "A" state grade and a 97% graduation rate. The district has been named an Academically High-Performing School District by the Florida Department of Education. US News and World Report ranks its Orange Park Elementary as the no. 11 elementary schools in the state.

The district serves about 41,000 students across 51 schools. It operates:

  • 27 Elementary schools grades K-5
  • 6 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 6 High schools grades 9-12
  • 1 Grades 6-12 community school
  • 1 Adult education center
  • 2 Alternative centers
  • 4 Charter Schools

Clay County is located in northeast Florida, just southwest of Jacksonville. The county has a population of 222,361, with a median household income of $68,657 and a poverty rate of 9%.

Cities in Clay County include Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Fleming Island, and Penney Farms.

Nassau County

The Nassau County School District is Florida's oldest, founded in 1869. The district has an "A" state grade, having been a "B" school once in 2016. Its high schools have a 93% graduation rate.

Its purpose is to nurture community. The district serves about 20,000 students across 16 schools. Uniquely, it uses a single-feeder system based on geographic areas. This means two elementary schools feed directly into one middle school, and all the middle schools move up into the same high school.

It operates:

  • 7 Elementary schools grades K-5
  • 1 Intermediate school grades 3-5
  • 1 Primary school grades PK-2
  • 3 Middle schools grades 6-8
  • 3 High schools grades 9-12
  • 1 Middle-senior school grades 6-12

Nassau County is located in northeast Florida, north of Jacksonville and on the Georgia border. The county has a population of about 94,000, with a median household income of $72,998 and a poverty rate of 8%. SmartAsset ranked it the tenth wealthiest county in Florida based on median home values and per capita income.

Cities in Nassau County include Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Callahan, Yulee, and Hilliard.

Gilchrist County

Gilchrist County Schools has an "A" state grade and is one of Florida's best school districts, having earned a "B" once in 2016. MSN once rated this the best school district in Florida. 

One of the smaller districts on our list and among the state's smallest, Gilchrist serves about 2,700 students across four schools. It has two elementary and two middle/high combined schools in Bell and Trenton.

Gilchrist County is located in north-central Florida, west of Gainesville. Highly agricultural, it's a very rural part of Florida with a population of about 18,000. The median household income was $47,381, with a poverty rate of 15%.

Lafayette County

Lafayette County Schools is Florida's smallest school district, founded in 1856. It has an "A" state grade and has held this distinction for four years.

The district serves about 1,100 students across three schools located in Mayo, FL. It operates one elementary school for grades K-5 and one combined middle-high school for grades 6-12.

Lafayette County is located in north Florida, west of Gainesville. It's a highly rural area with a population of about 8,500, making it the second least-populated Florida county. It had a median household income of $51,734. The poverty rate was 20%. Local towns are Mayo and Branford. 

Live in Florida's Best Schools

So what makes these districts so great? Some key factors are small class sizes, passionate and engaged teachers, parent and community involvement, high graduation rates, and strong test scores. These school districts are also located in areas with low crime rates and high median incomes. 

That doesn't mean you can't find great schools in other districts. For example, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, which did not make this list, have many of the state's top-rated schools on the US News and World Report. It's also the nation's fourth-largest school system.

Do you have any favorite Florida school districts? Let us know in the comments!

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