By Sue Botos
Rocky River can now add a shout-out from NerdWallet to its list of accolades.
The consumer advocacy website is conducting a study of the best towns in each of the 50 states in which to raise a family, and has ranked Rocky River fifth in Ohio. Broadview Heights was ranked No. 1, and Westshore neighbor Avon Lake came in sixth.
“We’re looking at each state and analyzing data based on high-performing schools and affordable homes,” NerdWallet’s Laura Zulliger stated. She said that the company, based in San Francisco, was founded in 2009 to provide consumers with the tools to make sound financial decisions on everything from finding the right preschool to retirement planning.
Analyst Mike Anderson, who compiled the information regarding Ohio cities (www.nerdwallet.com/blog/ 2013/best-towns-ohio-young-families/), explained that three criteria were used to determine the standings: city financial growth, reasonably priced housing and quality schools. He said that when young families buy a home in a community, it’s not just a purchase, but an investment in that community and “benefiting from all it has to offer.”
“We measured schools’ academic performances with ratings from GreatSchools (www.greatschools.org),” he said, adding that this nonprofit website compares a given school’s standardized test scores to its state’s average, then assigns a rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Anderson continued that other categories of his studies included median home value, monthly cost to maintain a home, median household income and economic growth rate between 1999 and 2011. This information is then analyzed, and a total score is reached.
Rocky River received a composite of 73.1 based on a GreatSchools rating of 10, average home value of $208,000, a $1,674 monthly maintenance cost and a 10-year growth rate of 26.3 percent. The listing further noted that Rocky River High School was one of 11 Ohio schools to receive a National Blue Ribbon award recently and that the city is conveniently located close to amenities like Lake Erie and the Cleveland Metroparks.
Anderson said this is the first time NerdWallet has conducted such a study, which uses data based on the last census. He said that the study could possibly be repeated after the next census. He said that Ohio was the 35th state to be studied.
According to Anderson, NerdWallet will continue to use standardized tests as a benchmark even after full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a revision of school curriculum and testing. “The (findings) do not reflect the Common Core yet. We will continue to use standardized test information even though Common Core is rather contentious.”
Rocky River’s ranking was no surprise to Mayor Pam Bobst, who stated that she was pleased with the information even though she was not familiar with NerdWallet.
NerdWallet senior analyst and 2007 Rocky River High School graduate Divya Raghavan said that because she is a native Ohioan, she helped with the project, looking over the listing to make sure everything was accurate. She also was not surprised at her hometown’s ranking. “Rocky River definitely has a good school system and plenty of access to nature,” she stated.