Rochester School District Ratings

June 7, 2013 Updated Jun 7, 2013 at 8:05 AM EDT

By G. Scott Thomas, Projects Editor- Business First


Rochester School District Ratings

June 7, 2013 Updated Jun 7, 2013 at 8:05 AM EDT

The superintendent has changed, but the results are unaffected. Pittsford remains the No. 1 school district in Business First's Rochester Area rankings.

Pittsford's longtime superintendent, Mary Alice Price, retired in January. She was replaced by her second-in-command, Michael Pero, a 19-year veteran with the suburban Rochester district.

Click here for a slideshow that counts down this year's district rankings.

"I don't feel any special pressure (to stay No. 1) because I worked under her tutelage for so long," says Pero. "We had an equation that worked very well while she was here, and we believe it can continue to work well into the future."

This is the fourth year for Business First's Rochester Area rankings. Pittsford has been on top since the start in 2010.

The new runner-up is Honeoye Falls-Lima, which shares a border with Pittsford. It was No. 3 the previous three years, but has pushed ahead of Brighton into second place.

Honeoye Falls-Lima also has a new superintendent, Gene Mancuso, who arrived from Penfield in March. He has been especially impressed, he says, with the collaborative spirit within his new district.

"There's a conscious effort here to get everyone involved, and it really seems to pay off," says Mancuso. "This is one of the most inclusive districts I've ever seen. We have 70 people involved in the budget process -- board members, school officials, people from the community -- where other places might have a dozen or so. People here feel passionately about their schools."

Brighton, which held second place in the district rankings from 2010 to 2012, is now in third place. It's followed by Penfield (fourth) and West Irondequoit (fifth), whose respective positions are unchanged from a year ago.

The Rochester Area rankings are modeled on Business First's Western New York ratings, which date to 1992. The principle is the same, with districts and individual schools being rated on four years of test data obtained from the New York State Education Department.

Business First defines the Rochester Area as a zone of eight counties -- Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates -- containing 67 school districts.

Pittsford's dominance within the region is clearly evident:

• It's the top-rated Rochester Area district in all four subject areas (English/foreign languages, mathematics, science and social studies), based on Business First's breakdown of 2009-2012 standardized test data.

• Seventy-seven percent of Pittsford's graduates earned Regents diplomas with advanced designations last year. That's more than 30 points ahead of the rate for the entire eight-county region, 45.6 percent. (Advanced diplomas are awarded to grads who have passed at least eight Regents exams.)

• It's the only district in the Rochester Area with more than 60 percent of its students achieving superior scores (85 or better) on Regents tests in English, algebra, geometry, global history, U.S. history, biology and earth science.

The top five districts -- and seven of the top 10 -- are located in Monroe County. The leading exception is Ontario County's Victor in sixth place. It's followed by two Livingston County entries -- Geneseo in ninth place and Avon in 10th.

"Our community has high expectations, but also has been tremendously supportive," says Tim Hayes, the superintendent in Geneseo. "As everybody knows, the economic times have been difficult, but they've stuck with us."

Eleven school systems are winners of 2013 subject awards, which are presented to the top 10 percent of all Rochester Area districts in each of the four major academic fields.

Brighton, Honeoye Falls-Lima, Penfield and Pittsford have swept all four awards, while West Irondequoit and Victor have picked up three of a possible four.

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