Courtesy of Flickr user Mircea Goia under a CC 4.0 license.
Percentage of School Age Children (5-18): 22.4%
Graduation Rate: 86.2%
Number of Parks: 25
Walk Score: 30
2. Chandler, AZ
This marks Chandler, AZ's second appearance on our annual list of the Best Cities to Raise a Family, and for good reason. Families take full advantage of Chandler's 330 days of sunshine. The city has heavily invested in green space, offering more than 60 city and neighborhood parks, including a 23,000-square-foot BMX park, the first city-owned bike park in the state. In fact, Chandler is close to reaching its goal of a neighborhood park in each residential square mile of the city.
The Parks and Recreation department offers classes for families – from dance and karate, to art and fitness. Chandler's three public pools are set up as mini splash parks with slides and multiple pools for an affordable family fun day.
"We place a premium on our parks and recreation programs, with a number terrific amenities for people of all ages. Those include six aquatic complexes, four libraries, a skate park, bike park, several dog parks, disc golf courses, an archery range and the 7.5 mile Paseo trail system for hiking, biking, jogging and horseback riding, and an environmental education center," says Mayor Jay Tibshraeny.
Chandler Unified School District is one of the fastest growing school districts in the state. It's comprised of 29 elementary schools, seven junior high schools and five high schools including two college prep schools and an Early College with dual college enrollment; 21 of those schools have opened in the last 20 years. An open enrollment policy means parents have multiple choices of where to send their children, regardless of residential zoning boundaries. Nearly all of the district's schools have been recognized for excellence in educational programming by the Arizona Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.
"The Chandler school district is rated number one in the state. Both my children grew up through the public school system and received excellent educations. Chandler offers many school choices from private to public charter schools if you are looking for a specialty education as well," says Gina McKinley, realtor with RE/MAX Realtors in Chandler. "The diversity of the education offered should meet any family's need with a strict educational college prep curriculum system for 1st through 12th grades."
Chandler also has a university presence downtown with both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University satellite campuses, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College is a rapidly growing school that is also one of the best in the state.