Sherman Ranks No. 1 In Business First Rating

Of the 429 Upstate New York school districts rated in Buffalo Business First’s achievement index, Sherman Central School is ranked No. 1 overall.

As Business First wrapped up its final week of specialized and academic ratings for the 2012-13 school year, it was revealed that Sherman, and several other area districts, scored highly on the achievement index.

According to G. Scott Thomas, Business First projects editor, the achievement index rankings were compiled by comparing each district’s academic performance with its socioeconomic rating. Thomas praised Sherman and other high-ranking Chautauqua County districts on their performance in this category.

“Sherman’s poverty rate is almost as high as it is in Buffalo, and yet their academic ranking is extremely high,” Thomas said. “We’ve been ranking Western New York (in academic performance) a lot longer than upstate, but I can tell you that Bemus Point Central has always done well and Southwestern Central has risen in recent years. (These districts) are performing at a level that is comparable to the most affluent suburbs of the Buffalo area.”

He added: “Some critics (of these ratings) say districts in suburbs always do well and districts in big cities never do well, but that is not true. This proves that there are (rural) districts out there that are succeeding, and it might be difficult to figure the reasons why.”

One reason why the higher rankings of area districts in this category is notable is because of the considerable influence each district’s tax base exerts on Business First’s compilation of its ratings. Traditionally, the ratings tend to favor districts with a large and thriving tax base, while districts with a smaller, more tax-exempt tax base are often found to be ranked lower.

According to Kaine Kelly, Sherman superintendent, his district’s overall ranking is empowering but not overly unexpected. He said Sherman has consistently been the top-ranked Western New York district in the achievement index category for the past five years.

“My initial thoughts about it are that I’m shocked but not surprised because I know our staff, families and community,” Kelly said. “Regardless of our socioeconomic status, we have teachers who are very dedicated and connected to our students, and we have families that genuinely value education. We just work hard to make sure we’re providing the best opportunities for our kids, and it’s awesome that our hard work is being recognized.”

In addition to the achievement index ratings, other category ratings in cost-effectiveness and overall academic achievement were released this week. The cost-effectiveness category was compiled by comparing each district’s academic performance against its spending habits.

Market ratings, which divided the Upstate New York districts into eight geographic locations, were also released; though Western New York’s ratings had been previously released in June.