For a county of its size and geographic location, Chautauqua is home to a surprising array of high quality, and in several cases unique, educational opportunities.
The county's educational system includes the State University of New York at Fredonia, Jamestown Business College, and Jamestown Community College, the first community college in New York State. JCC was founded in 1950 and has grown to include two campuses and two satellite branches. The famous Chautauqua Institution, founded in 1874 and located on Chautauqua Lake, hosts educational and cultural programs each summer. Other educational opportunities exist at Lily Dale Assembly, the world center of the Universal Religion of Modern Spiritualism, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, a national center for nature education and teacher enhancement.
Public education in Chautauqua County is offered in the following 18 public school districts, and private education at a number of Catholic and Christian Schools.
Post-secondary educational opportunities in the county are listed below. Information on students and programs can be found at the websites of these institutions.
- University Colleges (SUNY Colleges)
- Community Colleges
- Private Institutions
Other educational programs and opportunities are listed below.
B) School Populations and Risk Indicators
The following table lists the total enrollment, racial distribution of students, and attendance rate in all public school districts in Chautauqua County. The total 2003 school population for Chautauqua County was 23,863. White students comprised 89.7% of this population, Black students 2.8%, and Hispanic students 5.7%. The Hispanic population of Dunkirk schools is 32.5% or 702 students, and the Jamestown population is 8.5% or 447. The Black population of the Dunkirk Schools is 9.1%, or 196 students, and Jamestown population is 6.6%, or 347 students.
Statistics for Public School Districts
July 2003 Report to the Governor and the Legislature
The second part of the table below lists factors related to drop outs and youth risks. The highest poverty indices are found in Dunkirk (26), Jamestown (25), and Pine Valley (25). Brocton and Cassadaga Valley also have scores over 20. In addition, the table identifies the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunches (which are indicators of poverty), the suspension rate and drop out rate (are indicators of youth risk), the percent of students enrolled in GED programs, and percent going on to college in the previous school year. Overall, 43% of Chautauqua County students qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Dunkirk has the highest rate of 70.8% and Ripley, Jamestown, Clymer, and Sherman have rates over 50%. Bemus Point, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Panama, and Southwestern have rates less than 30%.
The overall drop out rate in the county is 4.2%. Rates of 8% or greater are found in Chautauqua Lake and Jamestown, and rates above 6% are found in Dunkirk and Brocton.
Detailed information about educational performance at all levels of education in all county school districts and comparisons to other school districts in the state are available at the following website: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/655report/2003/tableofcontents-july-2003.html
C) School Enrollment, Educational Attainment, and Employment
The table below based on 2000 census data shows the numbers of students enrolled in various levels of education in the county, and also the age groups of those enrolled.
According to 2000 census data presented in the following table, in the 16-19 age group consisting (9,278 individuals), 9.2% (855) are not high school graduates, and the majority of these are unemployed or not in the labor force.
In the 18-24 age group (14,391 persons), 23.5% (3,386), are not high school graduates. As the table below details, in the 25 and over population of Chautauqua County, consisting of 91,261 persons, a total of 18.8 % have less than a high school education, a rate that is slightly higher for males, 20.2%, than females. 17.6%.
These and additional school enrollment data for type of school and age groups are also available for each location in the county, (SCHOOL ENROLLMENT IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY LOCATIONS) as are statewide comparisons (SCHOOL ENROLLMENT IN NEW YORK COUNTIES). These and additional educational attainment data on level of attainment and attainment by age group for each location can be found at (EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT BY SEX IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY), and the equivalent statewide data at (EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT BY SEX IN CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY).
For the largest racial/ethnic minorities in the county, the percentage of the population 25 and over with less than a high school education is substantially higher than for the total population. As can be calculated from the following table, 47% of Blacks have no high school diploma, and the rate is higher for
males than females.
For the Hispanic population in this age group, it can be calculated that 49% have no high school diploma, and
again the rate is higher for males.
D) Early Childhood Education
Chautauqua County's strong early childhood system is increasingly important to the health of pre-school age children, as demands on families to work and parent simultaneously accelerate. The quality of a child's earliest health care and education has life-long implications for the child as well as social and economic implications for the child's community. Unquestionably, parents play the most significant role in a child's life, but when they cannot be with their young child throughout the day, they need access to quality caregivers who are nurturing and consistent in order for healthy child development to occur. A wealth of related information can be found at Success By Six.
The current early care and education system in Chautauqua County, excluding UPK, includes:
- 1 Child Care Council for Resource and Referral
- 6 community-based and 18 faith-based preschools
- County-wide Head Start/Early Head Start: center, home-based, satellite programs
- 16 NYS licensed child care centers (including NAEYC accredited programs)
- 31 registered Group Family Homes
- 76 registered Family Day Care Homes
- A significant number of informal/unregulated child care providers
[Source: Chautauqua County Child Care Council for Resource and Referral, 2004]
Data examined in Section II of this assessment will show that educational level is a factor in many of county's health priorities. Despite the wealth of high quality educational opportunities in the county, the level of enrollment and attainment vary by subpopulations, as do educational outcomes. Strong early childhood education and child care resources contribute to future educational success and to economic development. They also provide opportunities for early identification and intervention in health risk behaviors and health problems, and offer a context for conducting health education programs with families.