SCHOOLS: Grad rates part of the story

Recent graduation rates are not a true indicator of the failings — or successes — for area school districts. The recent report, issued by the state Education Department, found the overall county graduation rate slipped from 84 percent to 83 percent.

That’s not bad, but there is plenty of reason for concern. Larger and city districts, due to demographics, have a history of struggles. Small districts, with an often greater sense of community, have solid results that do not offer the full picture.

Take North Collins in Erie County, for instance. It showed the greatest increase of in graduation percentage in our area from 87 percent to 98 percent. But its course selection and offerings are nowhere near what larger districts, including Gowanda and Fredonia. Translation: students there are receiving a good education, but it’s limited.

Brocton is a red flag. Its drastic decline from 84 percent to 64 percent is an indication that the community and surrounding area is suffering. The rate for the 525-student school, according to the state report card, is more likely a reflection of what’s happening outside, rather than inside the school.

We’ve said this before. An abundance of schools contribute to high tax rates. Those rates, unfortunately, hinder private investment. The result: a poorer county, which hurts our educational system.