The Olean Times Herald spent the last year focusing on one question: What is the state of rural schools in New York's Cattaraugus and Allegany counties?
The answer comes in a three-part series examining the issues facing local schools, how families are responding to them and what officials are — or aren’t — doing to resolve them.
In Part I, we examine school districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties that often struggle to give their students the programs they need in the face of shrinking enrollments and a declining tax base. It's a scenario that plays out in many of New York’s rural school districts, which account for roughly 300 of the more than 700 districts statewide.
The topic of merging school districts has cropped up locally as a possible solution to some rural schools' issues. In this companion story to Part I, we discuss the consequences of mergers and how those consequences have affected public opinion.
In Part II, we examine a silent referendum on school districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. Parents are electing to send their children to public schools outside of their home districts at some of the highest rates in New York. In a climate where rural school districts often struggle to provide advanced coursework, they’re looking for the districts that can give their children an edge.
As part of Part II, this map shows how many nonresident students each of Cattaraugus and Allegany counties' 24 school districts took in — and …
Local rural school districts have thought up some solutions to their struggles, but say they're handcuffed from acting on them. In Part III, we look at Western New York districts and politicians' push for regional high schools, and why the push went nowhere.