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Clarence Tops Business First Annual School Rankings

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Business First Wednesday released its first in a series of ratings on Western New York's 97 public school systems. And Clarence Central Schools are back in first place in the annual school rankings. And Buffalo, once again, came in dead last.

It's been a close competetion between number one Clarence and a handful of neighboring suburban schools. This year, Williamsville traded places with Clarence, moving from last year's number one slot, to second place.

Also on the Business First's Honor Roll are 12 other school districts. Orchard Park, Amherst and East Aurora landed in the top five.

Parents, businesses and realtors await the annual list anxiously. But top rated Clarence's Superintendent, Thomas Coseo says individidual district achievement should be the benchmark.

"There are many fine school districts in Western New York and New York state," said Coseo. "We don't view this as a foot race with one finisher at the end. I think it's important to view the efforts of all schools in Western New York, to improve learning standards for pupils, and make sure that achievement improves right across the board."

Coseo adds that, for their district, success comes from a broad range of resources -- parent and faculty support, student motivation as well as a broad tax base.

Others agree that resources are significant. And some critics charge that the eighty point formula, devised by Business First, does not adjust for these variations between suburban and urban districts. Buffalo School Superintendent Marion Canedo is quick to point them out.

"We have over forty three thousand students, we have 86 percent poverty, we have 52 different languages, we have 20 percent of our students with special needs," said Canedo. "We are working very hard, and have come a long way. But, I don't think if you do this for the next 30 years that we would ever come up to the top."

This is the eleventh year that the Buffalo-based weekly has rated the 97 public school systems. This year, in addition to the overall and high school ratings, Business First is adding individual ratings for elementary and middle schools. And, editors say, by popular demand, later this week they will also release a ranking of the area's private schools.

Here is the list:

1. Clarence (Erie) 2. Williamsville (Erie) 3. Orchard Park (Erie) 4. Amherst (Erie) 5. East Aurora (Erie) 6. Iroquois (Erie) 7. LeRoy (Genesee) 8. Hamburg (Erie) 9. Bemus Point (Chautauqua) 10. Eden (Erie) 11. Akron (Erie) 12. Chautauqua Lake (Chautauqua) 13. Alden (Erie) 14. Alfred-Almond (Allegany)

Other districts: 15. Springville-Griffith Institute (Erie) 16. Sweet Home (Erie) 17. Sherman (Chautauqua) 18. Lewiston-Porter (Niagara) 19. Frontier (Erie) 20. Wilson (Niagara) 21. Lancaster (Erie) 22. Newfane (Niagara) 23. West Valley (Cattaraugus) 24. Grand Island (Erie) 25. Allegany-Limestone (Cattaraugus) 26. Fredonia (Chautauqua) 27. Byron-Bergen (Genesee) 28. Ellicottville (Cattaraugus) 29. Portville (Cattaraugus) 30. Kenmore-Tonawanda (Erie) 31. Frewsburg (Chautauqua) 32. Letchworth (Wyoming) 33. Elba (Genesee) 34. Holland (Erie) 35. Southwestern (Chautauqua) 36. Pavilion (Genesee) 37. Starpoint (Niagara) 38. Oakfield-Alabama (Genesee) 39. West Seneca (Erie) 40. Westfield (Chautauqua) 41. Panama (Chautauqua) 42. Kendall (Orleans) 43. Fillmore (Allegany) 44. Barker (Niagara) 45. Attica (Wyoming) 46. North Tonawanda (Niagara) 47. Silver Creek (Chautauqua) 48. Olean (Cattaraugus) 49. Niagara-Wheatfield (Niagara) 50. Pembroke (Genesee) 51. Perry (Wyoming) 52. Alexander (Genesee) 53. Cuba-Rushford (Allegany) 54. Batavia (Genesee) 55. Lockport (Niagara) 56. Randolph (Cattaraugus) 57. Depew (Erie) 58. Cheektowaga-Sloan (Erie) 59. Whitesville (Allegany) 60. North Collins (Erie) 61. Falconer (Chautauqua) 62. Genesee Valley (Allegany) 63. Medina (Orleans) 64. Holley (Orleans) 65. Scio (Allegany) 66. Warsaw (Wyoming) 67. Albion (Orleans) 67. Forestville (Chautauqua) 69. Yorkshire-Pioneer (Cattaraugus) 70. Cheektowaga-Maryvale (Erie) 71. Evans-Brant (Erie) 72. Lyndonville (Orleans) 73. Cheektowaga (Erie) 74. Belfast (Allegany) 75. Royalton-Hartland (Niagara) 76. Tonawanda (Erie) 77. Clymer (Chautauqua) 78. Canaseraga (Allegany) 79. Cassadaga Valley (Chautauqua) 80. Wellsville (Allegany) 81. Cleveland Hill (Erie) 82. Pine Valley (Chautauqua) 83. Hinsdale (Cattaraugus) 84. Franklinville (Cattaraugus) 85. Ripley (Chautauqua) 86. Jamestown (Chautauqua) 87. Brocton (Chautauqua) 88. Dunkirk (Chautauqua) 89. Gowanda (Cattaraugus) 90. Bolivar-Richburg (Allegany) 91. Cattaraugus-Little Valley (Cattaraugus) 92. Salamanca (Cattaraugus) 93. Niagara Falls (Niagara) 94. Andover (Allegany) 95. Lackawanna (Erie) 96. Friendship (Allegany) 97. Buffalo (Erie)