Perry Central High School among state's 'best buys'

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Financial efficiency, academic success garner recognition

By Vince Luecke

LEOPOLD — When it comes to using taxpayer dollars to educate students, Perry Central High School is a best buy.

That's the conclusion of an Indiana Chamber of Commerce analysis of high schools published this month in the 10th edition of "Indiana's Best Buys."

The study examined 349 Indiana public high schools and charter schools. Using ISTEP pass rates, ISTEP pass-plus rates, graduation rates, SAT participation rates and average composite scores and Advanced Placement passing scores, the chamber developed a total school performance index for each school.

Called the school's quality index, the number was  compared to each school's total revenues per pupil to determine "best buy" schools.  From that list, "honor roll" schools were selected based on each school's at-risk student-poverty rate, as measured by participation in the federal free and reduced lunch program.

For 2008, 132 public high schools were designated as "best buys" for giving taxpayers the most value for their money.

Two methods determined this honor. A school was named a best buy if it had a quality index above the state median and revenues below the statewide median of $9,313 per student. The second method was by having a quality index ranking that was 20 percent higher than the school's revenues.

"All of these Best Buys schools are wisely using taxpayer dollars to educate and prepare Indiana's future workforce," Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said. "While being responsible with the community's investment, these schools are delivering a quality education to our children – which is no easy feat. These communities should be proud of the schools' achievements as both they and the students are reaping the benefits."

All data used in the Best Buys report was collected from Indiana Department of Education databases.

Perry Central Schools Superintendent Mary Roberson said she and school leaders welcome the attention and said the district works hard to do the most with the money it has available.

"Perry Central is appreciative of the recognition by the Indiana Chamber.  In today's difficult economic times, Perry Countians can be proud that Perry Central is delivering the best possible education and at the same time being fiscally conservative," Roberson said. "This designation is a tribute to our students, staff and community."

To view the Indiana's Best Buys report, visit www.indianachamber.com/bestbuys.