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The Lansing Central School District is one of the most equitable districts in New York State according to a new Wallethub analysis.  While it is well known that students from poor families face more challenges than their wealthier counterparts, the analysis shows Lansing is doing quite a lot to even the playing field.  The analysis looked at 675 New York State school districts to see which had the most and least discrepancies between rich and poor students.  Lansing ranked 13th most equitable in the list where lower ranking numbers show the most equitable districts and high numbers the least.

"If we ensure that all school districts have equitable funding, that will help to level the playing field for students in less affluent communities. It will improve graduation rates in previously underfunded districts and lead to greater rates of pursuing higher education and better future incomes,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “College graduates have $460 - $1,154 higher median weekly earnings than people with a high school diploma and no college experience, depending on the degree."

v16i32 Elsewhere in Tompkins County, Trumansburg ranked 111; Dryden 124; Newfield 215; Groton 286;  and the Ithaca City School District ranked 363.

Analysts noted that the difference between rich and poor students in less equitable school districts has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, saying that a major contributing factor is that poorer students have less access to technology and the Internet.  In mid-July Lansing School Superintendent Chris Pettograsso says the Lansing district has offered technology to all students who need it, and also helped families get Internet.  She said that only a handful of families did not want their children to participate in online learning, and those students have been provided with paper materials so they can keep up with their class work.

"We actually narrowed it down to about five students that were having difficulty (getting Internet)," Pettograsso said. "We got hot spots for students. The nice piece is we are able to do blended learning... we can put everything up on the computer ahead of time and send it home daily with the students. So really we were able to, to work with almost every family to make sure that they received it. There are some families that said, 'no, thank you. We do not want Internet service or virtual learning in that manner'. So we provided hard copies of things."

But that attention to equal access and equitable learning opportunities for less wealthy students is not shared among districts state-wide.  Another Wallethub analysis shows New York as the least equitable state in the country.

"New York has the least equitable school districts in the U.S. overall, but some districts within the state are fairer than others. To find out where school funding is distributed most equitably, WalletHub scored 675 districts in New York based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil," the analysis says.

The financial Web site started by ranking 12,919 school districts nation-wide, and found that New York State raked at the bottom of the list -- 49 out of 49 states -- with the least equitable districts.  But when they dug down into a state by state breakdown, the numbers showed Lansing as the 13th best in the state.  The analysis was based on average household income and expenditures-per-student.  Lansing came in at $21,945 spent per student, and with an average household income of $77,892.

"To support underprivileged school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic, we should make sure that all schools have the resources to provide a comprehensive online education if necessary. Schools need to be able to lend devices and provide Wi-Fi hotspots to students who don't already have the capability to work remotely," Gonzalez said. "If in-person schooling does happen this fall, it's important to make sure that underprivileged school districts don't have a shortage of COVID-19 tests, masks, cleaning supplies and other resources necessary to provide a safe learning environment."

The 12 districts that ranked more equitable than Lansing are Wheelerville Union Free School District, New Paltz Central School District, Willsboro Central School, Burnt Hills Ballston Lake Central School District, Valley Central School District At Montgomery, Orchard Park Central School, Greenville Central School District, Freeport Union Free School District, Hyde Park Central School District    , Sullivan West Consolidated School District, Berlin Central School District, and New Rochelle City School.

Fire Island Union Free School District was ranked the least equitable school district in the state.

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