Online Portal Helps Houston Parents Compare K-12 School Options in the Inner Loop

Central Houston has launched Learn Central, an online portal developed to help parents evaluate the K-12 education options available in the central city. The interactive website is now live at www.learncentralhouston.org.

“Parents often think that they must live in the suburbs to ensure their children receive quality educations,” said Bob Eury, president of Central Houston. “On the contrary, there are many established and emerging education options close to Downtown Houston — in fact, some of the region’s highest achieving schools are located centrally. With Learn Central, we hope to demonstrate to families, and the community as a whole, that it’s possible to raise children in an urban, culturally diverse environment.”

The comprehensive website includes information about the more than 150 inner-loop schools, including organization, demographics and more. The school browser can be sorted by type (public, private or charter), grade levels, total enrollment and programs offered.

While education choice is the primary concern for most parents, a quality school is not the sole need of a family. For that reason, the website incorporates three other components: neighborhoods, “living in the loop” and commute.

The neighborhood section chronicles the boundaries, descriptions and features of the 33 neighborhoods within the I-610 Loop, along with a place-based view of education opportunities in each area. Residents of the neighborhoods assisted in creating this section’s content, which provides a unique perspective on raising a family there.

The “living in the loop” section highlights the world-class urban amenities available inside I-610, including arts and cultural attractions, parks, recreation, sports and shopping destinations.

Learn Central’s commute section provides a commute calculator powered by WalkScore. Users can plug in a home or work address and preferred travel mode (walk, bike, transit or drive) to visualize a map area with schools and neighborhoods that fall within those boundaries.

The website also includes local resources childcare, early childhood education, afterschool care and summer learning, as well as links to budgeting worksheets and relevant education news and reports.

Improving quality of life for Downtown Houston’s residents and workforce is one of the strategic objectives of Central Houston, a nonprofit organization committed to enhancing livability in the city’s central core. The organization has long understood that access to education is a major quality-of-life factor, as well as an important building block for a healthy downtown.

Central Houston began studying education and livability in and near downtown in 2012, and in 2014, it formed a Quality Education Options Task Force to collect and compile data on public, public charter and private schools close to Downtown Houston. This was the impetus for the new, comprehensive learn/live website.

Central Houston developed Learn Central with support from the Houston Downtown Management District and guidance from a steering committee — comprised of representatives from management districts, super neighborhoods, parents of school-aged children and area education and community leaders. Input was also gathered by focus groups of realtors, corporate relocation experts and human resources professionals as well as millennials from CHIME, Central Houston’s young professionals group.

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