SEARCHING FOR SCHOOLS - 101
For families, one of the first things you start Googling in your search - is schools. The Triangle has some incredible schools, and there are some great websites for like Niche.com and GreatSchools.org for the ratings, but they don't tell you everything. So, so consider this orientation for your search here. You hear a LOT about the quality universities here, so we'll give you the basics on K-12 schools.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS - AND WHAT IS A TRACK?
First off, if you're used to a traditional school calendar, you might be in for a surprise. Most public school districts operate on a year-round schedule, with the academic year divided into 4 "tracks". The track, or calendar, is different at each school. Some schools have a traditional calendar, while others go all year and class is in session for 9 weeks with a 3 week break between each session. Some of the best public schools in North Carolina are in the Triangle, but Chapel Hill gets most of the credit for the best public schools. One thing to note about the Chapel Hill area (Orange County included), property tax rates are among the highest in the region.
Extra credit: The traditional calendars for Wake County, Durham County, Orange County, and Cumberland County have school starting on August 28th. Spring Break is scheduled for April 2-6, and the beaches are close, but it might be cold that time of year. Check the ABC11 app before you go!
The Triangle has a few of the best charter schools in America. In North Carolina, charter schools are a public school authorized by the State Board of Education and are operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for the schools, which have open enrollment and cannot associate with any religion, religious group or charge tuition. The curriculum, style of teaching, and class structure varies among charter schools. So, go to one of the scheduled orientations or ask to sit in on a class to see if it's the right fit for your child.
Extra credit: While anyone can apply for these schools, classes are limited. Most enrollment deadlines are around January of the school year you plan to start. Check with each school to be sure!
If you don't find what you're looking for with public schools, private schools can be a great option here. There are large and small, religious and non-religious, expensive and quite affordable depending on where you plan to live. Private schools start at about $5,000 a year and can range up to around $25,000. A few of the most prestigious and expensive are Durham Academy, Cary Academy, and Ravenscroft School in Raleigh.
Extra credit: Most private schools are K-12 and the price can go up every grade you advance. So, check the tuition for each grade if you plan to keep your kids at one school for a long time.
Look up Wake County school districts here.