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The 10 Most Posh Public School Systems in America

by Staff Writers

Public schools sometimes get a bad reputation for graduating students with more street cred than academic prowess…

But many public schools offer magnet programs, special advanced placement opportunities, and internationally respected teaching practices that prepare students for the country’s best universities. And if you’re trying to snag a house in the right zip code so that your kids are guaranteed a spot at what could be the best school in your state, you know that these public school systems may be even more competitive than their neighboring private institutions.

  1. Beverly Hills High School: Any high school serving one of the most notably rich and privileged zip codes in the country has to be posh. BHHS served — and still serves, for the comeback show — as the model for West Beverly High — the high school for the characters on Beverly Hills 90210. Prominent architect Robert D. Farquhar, the architect for the California Club and the San Francisco World’s Fair Festival Hall, also designed BHHS in 1927. And from the school where surfing has been offered as a for-credit course, famous celebrities and entertainment executives and their offspring have graduated, from Nicolas Cage to Tori Spelling, Alicia Silverstone, Carrie Fisher, Shaun Cassidy, Nora Ephron, Jamie Lee Curtis, Angelina Jolie, Lenny Kravitz, and many others.

  2. Plano Independent School District: Plano, TX, is a suburb situated within Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX, and boasts many wealthy neighborhoods. Once named by CNN Money as the 11th best place to live in the country, it’s also been called one of the richest towns in the area, if not the whole country. Plano’s public school system is significant on two very different but possibly related fronts — its academic and athletic performances are some of the best in the United States, but it also suffers from a significant drug and suicide problem among its students. Lance Armstrong and many professional football and baseball stars attended public high schools in Plano.

  3. Main Line public school system, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania’s Main Line is located in suburban Philadelphia, where historic estates were settled in the early 20th century and where the average home price now averages between $500,000 – $1 million. The public school system supports nationally ranked schools within the Lower Merion School District, Radnor Township School District, School District of Haverford Township, Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and Great Valley School District. Lower Merion Township, located in Montgomery County, has the 5th highest per-capita income in the United States.

  4. Scarsdale Union Free School District : Westchester County, NY, boasts many upper crust suburban neighborhoods just north of New York City. The village/township of Scarsdale is home — or has been home to — famous celebrities and high-profile figures like Beyonce and Jay-Z, Yoko Ono, Liza Minnelli, Eve Ensler, Nicholas Kristof, Dan O’Brien, Aaron Sorkin, Brewster Kahle, and others. This past school year, educators from China visited the school district to study the unique critical and creative thinking lessons intrinsic to its educational philosophy.

  5. Menlo-Atherton High School: The incorporated Atherton, CA, located in San Mateo County, was last year listed as the second wealthiest zip code in the nation, by Forbes magazine. The public school system serves children who grow up in homes averaging $4 million and maintains a strong track record for graduating students who continue on to college — 96% of Menlo-Atherton students pursue some form of higher education. Video production, robotics, and global travel opportunities are all listed as electives and special activities for these privileged students.

  6. Hillsborough City School District: Another wealthy town located in San Mateo County, CA, is Hillsborough. Hillsborough has been noted as the town with the highest income in the United States, out of cities with at least 10,000 people, and requires each house to have a minimum lot size of .5 acres and minimum square footage of 2,500. Located south of San Francisco, Hillsborough’s public school district serves elementary and middle schools which have won numerous grants and awards in science, technology, community service, mathematics, social skills and overall academics. Spanish classes start in kindergarten, and the school district even has its own educational TV station.

  7. The Roslyn School District: This school district serves exclusive towns on the north shore of Long Island and is situated 20 miles outside of Manhattan. At least ninety percent of students graduate and go on to four-year colleges and compete at the national level in terms of academic performance and exam assessment. A January 2011 article in the New York Times highlighted Roslyn Hight School’s enviable iPad initiative: two humanities classes received iPads, and plans to hand them out to all students was underway.

  8. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School: Bethesda, MD, situated northwest of Washington, D.C., has appeared on numerous lists declaring it one of the richest and most educated towns in the country. And the children of supremely educated parents attend only the best schools, including elite private schools in D.C., as well as public schools in Bethesda. The Bethesda-Chevy High School in particular — part of the Montgomery County Public Schools system — is consistently recognized as one of the best high schools in the United States and offers a unique International Baccalaureate program as well.

  9. Boca Raton Community High School: South Florida’s Boca Raton community is a notably exclusive and wealthy town, plus a sometime hangout for Mafia mobsters on vacation. But organized crime aside, certain Boca Raton schools governed by The School District of Palm Beach County are known as particularly posh given their zip codes. There is of course diversity in every school, and Boca Raton Community High School’s STEM magnet program attracts qualifying students from different neighborhoods, too.

  10. Memorial High School, Houston TX: Memorial High School serves some of the richest kids in the city of Houston, and has graduated some pretty impressive alumni, including Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers. It’s widely known as one of the richest areas in Houston, in Texas, and even in the entire country. The average home price is over $1 million — some suburbs served by the district are well over $2 million — a pretty impressive number given the relatively low cost of homes — even big ones — in Texas.