Speak with realtors. Did they include the school in their initial presentation of the house to you? What do they "know" about the school (besides, "It's a good school.")? What inferences can you draw from what they say, or don't say (or their reaction - facial expression) when you first mention the school? Do they have readily available artifacts and resources (school newsletters, school calendars,...) from the school in their office?
Visit the school. Who greets you, and how do they greet you? What's the first thing you see when you enter the school, and how does that reflect on the school (for instance, do you find a display of sports trophies long before you discover academic awards)? Do people - learners and staff - make eye contact with you? How do members of the school community interact with each other during your visit? Are you allowed or encouraged to visit during the school day? Are you invited to visit a classroom in session? What do you see (or not see) on the hallway walls during your visit? Is there an open two-way verbal interaction during the visit or do you feel that you're receiving a canned description of the school? Can you notice any strands or stories emerging from the conversation you've had with the school representative that might indicate a sense of values and beliefs present in the school? Were you introduced to an administrator during the visit? Did anyone give you copies of a recent school newsletter or school calendar or summary of test scores or any other sources of information?
There are many other points of interest and moments of truth that once can acquire as they explore a school. I imagine that school staff members generally take their organizational culture for granted and don't see how it might represent a significant source of differentiation to consumers interested in selecting schools to shape the future of their children. Taking the school's personality for granted does little to help a school distinguish itself and sustain a viable learner population. In summary, I feel that public schools have too long taken the position once held by other professionals, notably doctors and lawyers, who felt that it was unprofessional to "advertise" their business. Why have we waited so long, even after the aforementioned professions, to distinguish our services and market our opportunities?