Ripple Effects

As the state budget crisis forces more Texas schools to close their doors, expect an attendant loss in property values for Lone Star homeowners. A number of academic studies have found that what common sense already tells us: when a school closes, property in the surrounding area loses value.

Real estate agents say it’s hard to sell a property near a vacated school due, citing buyers’ fears about whether the property will be neglected or who may lease it.

And 2009 report by the National Association of Realtors noted that the quality of the school district an important factor for many prospective homebuyers, and that buyers generally question the quality of a district marked by closed campuses.

Area businesses may also experience a drop in sales when teachers, students and parents are no longer there to patronize their establishments. Besides the obvious drop in income, the loss of daily customers may also hurt commercial property values as well.

Of course, these declines in property values are reflected in local property tax bills. And while a smaller bill may have immediate appeal, it ultimately means lost resale value for the homeowner – and lost tax revenue for municipalities.

Other community impacts can’t be measured in dollars and cents, but may be just as important. Neighborhoods that experience school closure often see young families move away and a general drop in civic engagement. Both parents and students report disruptions in social networks when students are split up to go to new campuses, losing friendships that may take years to reestablish elsewhere.

Clearly, the costs of school closures are significant, both financially and emotionally. Texas leaders should use every tool at their disposal to make sure our public school doors stay open.

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