St. Lawrence Central School District in Brasher Falls ranks at the bottom of the academic pile of all north country schools, according to Business First magazine.
The Buffalo-based magazine has ranked upstate New York schools for the past two years after ranking its local schools for more than 20 years.
People dont look at it this way, but education is one of the biggest businesses around, said G. Scott Thomas, Business First projects editor. Its a huge industry.
The ranking is derived from a 192-part formula based on district test performance over the past four years in addition to graduation rates.
Its evolved over the years, he said. Year to year, the numbers are way too volatile, especially for smaller schools.
Potsdam Central, Beaver River Central and Canton Central are the three top-rated districts in Northern New York.
The bottom three are Watertown City, Edwards-Knox Central and St. Lawrence Central, in descending order.
Watertown Superintendent Terry N. Fralick and Edwards-Knox Superintendent William U. Cartwright were not available for comment.
Im a little surprised, St. Lawrence Central Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said. Im not entirely shocked.
He said he believed the districts ranking would improve next year based on a number of programs implemented in the past seven years of his superintendency, such as an increased effort to improve literacy in the third and fourth grades.
Additionally, he said, the districts math scores last year were the highest in the St. Lawrence-Lewis County Board of Cooperative Educational Services jurisdiction.
He also is expecting the graduation rate to increase this year.
My expectation is that, over time, the data will change, he said.
He questioned the formula used by Business First.
When you have a formula that goes back four years, the last year isnt really going to count, he said. Its a historical picture rather than a current picture.
On the other side of the list, Potsdam Central Superintendent Patrick H. Brady was pleased the district received the best north country ranking for the second year in a row.
He commended the district for the accomplishment.
Our teachers, administration and students have spent a considerable amount of time trying to improve, he said. We dont rest on any laurels we might receive. Thats why were fighting so hard for resources in these tough times.
Beaver River Central Superintendent Leueen Smithling said the same about her district.
To see we can still perform with a tremendous loss in financial aid, its a real team effort, she said.
She noted Beaver River has lost $4.5 million in state aid in the past three years and still has managed to remain number two in Business Firsts north countrys rankings. She said the reason for this is effort from the entire districts community, from the bus drivers and custodians all the way to the board members and administration.
Although the new state-implemented guidelines have been tough for teachers, she said, her staff has dedicated after-school hours and weekend time to make sure students understand what they are taught.
One of the things we do well here is we know out kids, she said. We try really hard to not let anyone through the cracks. Everyone works together to see that our students are successful.