By Jann Wiswall

Buffalo Business First’s annual rankings of Western New York schools has once again placed Ellicottville Central School as the top District in the entire region for teacher experience.

The publication has been releasing installments of its “2015 Schools Guide” over the past several weeks as it prepares to release the full print-version of rankings on June 12.

This is the third year in a row that Ellicottville has ranked first in this category.

According to the article published in the June 4 edition, “Business First rated the levels of teacher experience in all 96 full-service districts in Western New York … Districts with high percentages of teachers in the 11-to-20-year range and 21-or-more-year range earned positive scores, while districts with high percentages in the one-to-10-year range received negative scores.

Superintendent Mark Ward attributes its success to a number of factors, chief of which is retention.

“We don’t see a lot of turnover,” he said. “Teachers come to ECS and like it, become part of the community and stay for the duration.”

Another important factor is that Ellicottville often hires more experienced teachers. “When someone retires with 35 years experience, we might hire someone to replace him/her who has 10 or 15 years experience.”

And when Ellicottville hires new, young teachers, the intent is to keep them engaged, professionally challenged and committed to students and the school for many years.

Finally, Ward says that the community’s support of education “is another solid factor that influences teachers to want to be here and want to stay. Our budgets and capital project votes have received 75% to 77% approval, and that is a solid indicator that the community supports what we are doing.”