A study of 662 families who had at least one child enrolled in a popular Wake County charter school finds that many families with children enrolled in charter schools are likely to move to be close to the school.

In North Carolina, where charters are not subject to school district boundaries, this finding could benefit urban renewal efforts that are underway in cities and towns across the state.

“We wanted to see if the presence of a charter school made a community more attractive to home buyers,” said Dr. Bart Danielsen, an N.C. State University professor and researcher who is currently conducting additional research on charter schools in southern California.

“The answer appears to be that a community with a charter school does attract the families whose children are enrolled at the school. The charter school is not just appealing, it actually draws people in. We found that these families moved much closer to the school than one might expect them to, even though they didn’t have to.”

Out of the 662 families tracked over a 12-year period while their children attended the school, the study found that 176 families moved, mostly to homes much closer to the charter. Families that moved further away from the school moved less than a mile away, and families who were already close to the school tended to stay put. (Student privacy laws prevent researchers from disclosing the school studied).

Though the study only looked at families at one school, Danielsen called the findings “exceptionally powerful,” adding that charter schools might be good focal points for urban renewal efforts by drawing families back into urban communities, thereby limiting sprawl.

You can see a video illustration of the families’ movement at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ElOlgfJ5qY&feature=youtu.be.