Falconer Fares Well In Business First School Study

Chautauqua County fared quite well this week in Buffalo Business First’s rankings of Western New York school districts – Falconer and Bemus Point in particular.

Of all eight counties in the region, Business First ranked 98 school districts in terms of administrative efficiency and socioeconomic climate. Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties were included in the study.

For administrative efficiency, rankings were determined by districts with the tightest budgets and sufficient amounts of staff members. Academic performance was not taken into account.

Of the 98 districts, Falconer was rated No. 14 – the best for Chautauqua County – and received four out of five stars. At the time of the study, there were 203 students per administrator.

Bemus Point and Westfield weren’t far behind, with Westfield at 18 and Bemus Point at 26.

“The goal is to balance a strong, high-quality educational program, while also taking our taxpayers into consideration,” said Michael Mansfield, Bemus Point superintendent. “We’ve worked very hard to run an efficient operation, making sure our audits are good and doing the best we can with the resources we have.”

Jamestown fell in the middle for administrative efficiency at No. 53, with Fredonia and Frewsburg at 57 and 59, respectively.

Dunkirk ranked 64th on the list, with eight of the county’s other school districts falling in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Ripley was ranked at 95, with one star for efficiency and 72 students per administrator.

Socioeconomic climate standings were determined after an analysis of poverty rates, income levels and the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

Again, Bemus Point fared well with a five-star ranking, or eighth of all eight counties with a poverty rate of 10.4 percent. Of the district’s 774 students, 18.4 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Chautauqua Lake, Fredonia and Southwestern school districts were also ranked in the top third of the 98 districts.

Frewsburg was ranked 37th with 25.6 percent of students eligible for free lunch and a poverty rate of 14.6 percent.

Falconer came in 69th place with two stars and a poverty rate of 28.2 percent.

Dunkirk received one star for its poverty rate of 33.9 percent. Other districts with one star included Cassadaga Valley, Pine Valley, Sherman, Gowanda, Brocton, Ripley and Jamestown at No. 95 with a poverty rate of 36.5 percent and 67.7 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Four teachers from Chautauqua County were honored with Business First’s 2014 Teachers of Merit Award on Wednesday, including Ben Drake of Jamestown High School; Caitlin Kane of Silver Creek High School; Walter Robertson of Dunkirk Senior High School; and Stacey Singer of Salamanca High School.

Drake, who is the boys varsity basketball coach and director of athletics at Jamestown High School, said he was humbled and honored to represent the district for such an award.

“It’s certainly an honor, and to be honest, I’m really not sure who nominated me for the award but I understand it’s very prestigious,” he said.

For a complete list of district rankings, visit www.bizjournals.com/buffalo.