Business First is out with seven specialized ratings generated by researchers. They have no impact on the academic rankings, but are
specifically designed to illuminate other aspects of district performance.
-- Cost-effectiveness: Clarence enjoys the region's best cost-benefit ratio.
It spends $13,410 per pupil, which is less than than any district but
Lancaster and Frontier, yet it's still No. 2 academically.
Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks says Clarence is proud of its record for
cost-effectiveness, yet knows it could easily lose the distinction.
"In one sense, it can be difficult to maintain," he says. "In a very lean
organization, if you're forced to make budget cuts, it can hurt a bit more
because there is so little leeway."
This year's cost-effectiveness runners-up are Lancaster and Frontier.
-- Administrative efficiency: Western New York¹s leanest school operation is
found in Lancaster, which spends the least per pupil ($12,821) and has the
biggest student-administrator ratio (274.1 students for every administrative
³You have to watch expenses,² says Edward Myszka, Lancaster¹s
superintendent. ³And we do, even when it comes to keeping costs down for
materials and supplies, or curtailing participation in out-of-state
Frontier and Williamsville rank second and third in this measure. Academic
performance, a key component in the cost-effectiveness rankings, is not a
factor when administrative efficiency is calculated.
-- Socioeconomic climate: This rating was discussed above. East Aurora has
been judged the most affluent district in Western New York, based on an
analysis of poverty rates, percentages of students eligible for free or
reduced-price lunches, and district wealth ratios.
-- Student access: Ripley offers the best opportunity for students to deal
directly with teachers and other staffers. Its pupil-teacher ratio of 8.6 to
1 is the very smallest in the region.
Coming next in the student access rankings are West Valley and Canaseraga.
-- Teacher experience: Chautauqua Lake has the most experienced faculty in
the region. Four-fifths of its teachers have been working with students for
more than 10 years, the highest rate in Western New York.
Westfield and Akron occupy the next two slots on the experience scale.
-- Teacher pay: Salaries for teachers are generally higher in Sweet Home
than in any of the other districts, according to a breakdown of pay levels
at five points in teachers' careers.
Williamsville and Lackawanna hold second and third place, respectively, in
this specialized rating.
-- Overachievers: Business First used each school system's poverty rate and two other indicators to rank the districts from most affluent (East Aurora) to most disadvantaged (Buffalo). This socioeconomic-climate rating was then compared to the academic rank for each district.
Sherman emerges as the region's biggest overachiever with a score of
plus-55. That's how much better its academic slot (36th place) is than its
socioeconomic position (91st place).
Full details are available in Business First's 2012-2013 Guide to Western
New York Schools, which hits newsstands today (Friday). Highlights are also
available right now at the newspaper's website: