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North Collins schools draw outside interest

NORTH COLLINS — The North Collins school district has found itself in the position of families wanting to enroll their children in the school, without moving to the area.

That topic arose at a school board meeting on July 22, according to North Collins School Superintendent Joan Thomas.

“We have been receiving calls from parents outside of the district, wanting to enroll their children here,” Thomas said, adding, “Although they are not interested in moving here.”

She said the interest arises from published reports of the school’s rise in rankings, over recent years. At the high school in particular, the building has seen a shift over the past six years from one of the worst performing to one of the top 30 in the area.

Thomas said she encouraged the callers to consider a move into North Collins. “We would love to have them, as active members of our community,” she said.

In comments directed to the audience Thomas said, “Here’s a heads-up for an entrepreneur: Build affordable rental apartments for these people.”

The district had also just received a report from “My College Options,” a service North Collins subscribes to, which presented a profile of the student body.

Among the findings were:

– More than 43 percent had plans to pursue science, technology, engineering or Math majors. Those areas constitute what is referred to as STEM courses and are highly valued in an increasingly technology-based economy. The North Collins rate was much higher than the national average, which stands at approximately 28 percent.

– One quarter of the student population will be the first in their families to attend college.

– Overall, 84 percent of students polled anticipate attending a four-year college after graduation.

High School Principal Annie Metcalf brought her focus on achievement directly to the class of 2014.

With North Collins being the smallest school district in Erie County, the past senior class saw 44 students receiving diplomas.

What was remarkable for Metcalf was that 100 percent of students who entered grade 12 in the Fall were on stage at graduation.

Additionally, she reported that those 44 have been offered more than $323,000 in scholarship money and, during their time at North Collins, had already amassed some 200 college credits.

Metcalf herself was presented an additional accolade for her selection as New York State High School Principal of the Year. The Erie County Legislature weighed in with a resolution adopted on May 8 in recognition of the accomplishment.

Elementary Principal John Cataldo presented highlights from his building, as well.

Progress was seen at the pre-kindergarten level, where Cataldo reported an average growth rate for four-year-olds of 58 percent. The principal clarified that the biggest gains were made by those students who entered the year with the greatest needs.

He also reported that overall growth for students in grades K-6 in math was over 80 percent, an increase from 62 percent, the previous year.

Cataldo said that, “Year-to-year comparison is not as telling as the continued growth of the students. This year, students nearly doubled their knowledge and skills in Math.” The math figures are compiled from tests given students at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.
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