NCSD superintendent counters claims of academic decline

NORWICH – Norwich City School District Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan is rebutting public claims that the school, academically speaking, is in decline.

O’Sullivan’s comments deflect allegations published in two recent letters to the editor recently published in The Evening Sun, both of which argue the school is lagging academically compared to its Chenango County counterparts. Moreover, those letters point to Norwich’s comparatively low scores on Regents examinations when matched up with other local districts, as well as the decline of both Regents scores and graduation rates in recent years.

“I do realize that Norwich isn’t Vestal or New Hartford, but I would have expected Norwich to maintain its academic lead over our sister districts in the mid Chenango valley area,” wrote Ed Erickson in a letter to the editor. “It might surprise Norwich residents to know that the NCSD’s 2014 graduation rate was 75 percent, while Greene, Sherburne-Earlville, and Oxford had 2014 graduation rates of 90 percent, 88 percent, and 79 percent respectively.”

But O’Sullivan says such worries don’t necessarily take other influencing factors – such as student demographics, prior years’ performance, or certain economic elements – into perspective, which he says are issues worthy of at least a discussion.

O’Sullivan additionally alluded to Norwich’s populace of students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program, which he cites as an indicator of student success. Approximately 54 percent of the district (976 students) are eligible for free and reduced lunch, according to the New York State Education Department’s website. The total number of students eligible is significantly higher than neighboring schools, including Sherburne-Earlville (679 students), Oxford (410 students), Unadilla Valley (496 students), Greene (554 students), and Otselic Valley (179 students).

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