Thursday, January 5, 2012

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Irvine addresses served by Tustin and Santa Ana schools

Posted: 05 Jan 2012 04:00 AM PST

Note by zovall: This post is written by an IHB regular, Cubic Zirconia.  Her writing has been featured on IHB in the past.  She has put together some information regarding what school districts (there are multiple!) serve the city of Irvine and some helpful links.  We'd love to hear your comments on the schools as well as her post.

Hello IHB readers,

This is Cubic Zirconia.

I was introduced to IHB in 2008 during my house hunting days. The market was going through a major correction, and nobody knew where the bottom was. MLS listings for short sales would generate interest with a teaser price that wouldn’t be approved by the bank and equity sales would list at an exorbitant price, still in denial that the market was under correction. That was not all, MLS listings would be full of misinformation, like an incorrect school district, the wrong amount of HOA dues, and very vague contact information if it was a short sale. Living outside Irvine and finding a house in Irvine wouldn’t have been easy for us, if not for IHB posts, then written by Irvine Renter. From someone who would religiously read Irvine Renter’s posts every morning to writing a post on IHB, it’s been a huge transition!

The great California sun shines on all of Orange County, but many prefer to buy in Irvine more than other places for two reasons - safety and schools. The public school system is one of the best in Irvine, with test scores higher than the state average, and almost every school with a perfect ten API ranking and Great school rating based on performance (

It is natural to assume that the premium you pay for a house in Irvine will assure a spot in an Irvine school, served by the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD). Your Realtor probably didn’t tell you, and the seller’s Realtor boldly quoted an Irvine school in the MLS listing page, but it’s not so. There are some parts of Irvine that are served by schools with a physical Irvine address, falling under Tustin Unified School District. They are usually referred as the “other side of Culver” with Culver serving as the boundary line. Some even fall under the Santa Ana School District.

Here is the list of schools that fall under Tustin Unified School District, but serve North Park, West Irvine and other western/northern areas of Irvine.  You will notice that even though these schools fall under Tustin Unified School District, they have the API ranks and scores comparable to any Irvine school. All of them have special education programs, GATE programs and afterschool programs as well as CDC. They have new and spacious school buildings, well planned and laid out. The teacher credentials and experience are also on par with Irvine schools. 

1. Myford Elementary (K- 5)
Address: 3181 Trevino Dr., Irvine CA 92602
API rank 10, and API score of 951 for 2011.
Serves: West Irvine and some other parts of Irvine
For more information:

2. Hicks Canyon Elementary (K-5)
Address: 3817 Viewpark, Irvine CA 92602
API rank 10, and API Score of 942 for 2011.
Serves: North Park and some other parts of Irvine
For more information:

3. Orchard Hills (Middle School 5-7 for 2011, K-8 planned)
Address: 11555 Culver Dr, Irvine CA 92602
API rank not available (new school), API score of 952 for 2011.
Serves: North Park and some other parts of Irvine
For more information:

4. Pioneer Middle School (6-8)
Address: 2700 Pioneer Rd, Tustin CA 92782
(This was the primary Middle School before Orchard Hills opened)
API rank 10, API Score of 939 for 2011.
Serves: Irvine falling under Tustin Unified School District and parts of Tustin
For more information:

5. Arnold Beckman High School (9-12)
Address: 3588 Bryan Ave, Irvine CA 92602
API rank 10, API score of 866 for 2011.
Serves: Irvine falling under Tustin Unified School District and parts of Tustin
For more information:
SAT Scores for 2011: Critical Reading 548 Math 588 Writing 571

In addition to these schools, there are also two magnet schools in TUSD.

1. Tustin Memorial Academy (K-5)
Address: 12712 Browning Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705
API Rank 10, API Score 962

2. Columbus Tustin Middle School
Address:  17952 Beneta Way, Tustin CA 92780
API Rank 7, API Score 819

A personal note about the magnet schools: Compared to the other schools that serve the area, I found that the two magnet schools fell short in terms of building, planning and parking. The API Scores for the elementary school are in the close range for both the magnet and the regular schools. However, when it comes to Middle Schools, Pioneer and Orchard Hills fare better than the magnet school. Pioneer Middle School was the #1 Middle School in OC in 2010.  Also, the schools are further into Tustin, increasing the driving distance for Irvine homes. In my opinion, they are not worth the extra drive. All of the elementary schools in TUSD accepting Irvine kids are gated, with a very controlled exit system at dismissal. I can’t think of the advantage of the magnet schools over the non-magnet schools when it comes to TUSD.

So next time, when you look at a property, no matter what the MLS says, you can always check the school for any given address here:
For those under Tustin Unified School District:
Map of the area served by TUSD:
TUSD Contact Information: 300 South C Street Tustin, CA 92780 • (714) 730-7301

For those under Irvine Unified School District:
Map of the area served by IUSD:
IUSD Contact Information: 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine CA 92604 • (949)936-5000

The story is a little different when looking at Irvine addresses which are served by the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD).

Condos at The Plaza, Central Park West, The Marquee, The Metropolitan and some apartment buildings near the Airport area fall under SAUSD.  Here's a glimpse at the portion of Irvine that is served by SAUSD:

To check if an address falls under Santa Ana School District :
Full Map of the area served by SAUSD:
SUSD Contact Information: 1601 East Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana 92701-6322 • (714)558-5501

The Santa Ana schools that serve Irvine are:

1. James Monroe Elementary School (K-6)
Address: 471 East Central Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92707
API Rank 6, API Score 839

2. Douglas MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School (6-8)
Address: 600 West Alton Ave, Santa Ana CA 92702
API Rank 8, API Score 849

3. Century High School (9-12)
Address: 1401 South Grand Ave, Santa Ana CA 92705
API Rank 1, API Score 615

The Santa Ana schools are no match to Irvine schools in the test stats. Not only that, the parent and Great Schools performance reviews also fall short. The teacher credentials and experience meet or exceed the state average, but the API leaves a lot to be desired.

Like I said before, often there is more than meets the eye, or in this case, more than the MLS states. Since one of the reasons to move to Irvine is to take advantage of the great public schools in the area, it’s good to tread with caution and see if the property you are putting an offer on falls under the school district you assumed it is in.

Was this information useful?
Are there any specific School District related topics that you would like to read on IHB? 
Reports and analysis about each school in detail? 
The review of special programs offered?
A post about Irvine Schools (IUSD)?

Please let us know!


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