Chamber Names Indiana’s ‘Best Buy’ Schools

Chamber officials are traveling the state today (and tomorrow) recognizing the schools that warranted our "Best Buy" label this year. See below for a description of the award and this year’s honorees (and view the full report here):

For 2009, 135 public high schools were designated as a "best buy" 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 $10,179 per student. The second method was by having a quality index ranking that was 20% higher than the school’s revenue ranking.

In addition, from the best buy group, 26 high schools were given the "honor roll" distinction for excelling academically despite having at-risk student demographics above the statewide median. For their exemplary efforts, the top five schools from the best buy and honor roll lists were then selected as "head of the class" members.

The 2009 "head of the class" selections are:

– Adams Central High School in Monroe (Adams County);
– Forest Park Jr.-Sr. High School in Ferdinand (Dubois County);
– North Central High School in Indianapolis (Marion County);
– Northwestern High School in Kokomo (Howard County);
– Plainfield High School (Hendricks County);
– Plymouth High School (Marshall County);
– Signature School in Evansville (Vanderburgh County).
– South Adams Jr.-Sr. High School in Berne (Adams County);
– Triton Jr.-Sr. High School in Bourbon (Marshall County); and
– Warsaw Community High School (Kosciusko County).

Coal Making Comeback for Some Businesses

America’s new likely Energy Secretary, nominee Steven Chu, is on record saying coal is his "worst nightmare." Well, he obviously hasn’t been locked in solitary with a stereo looping that migraine-inducing terror of a song, "Bad Day." That is my worst nightmare, and I’d contend it’s far worse than anything coal will ever provide.

But Chu’s (and Obama’s) aversion to coal is hardly music to the ears of the nation’s coal producers, namely the top five producing states (Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas). This is likely why the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council has a different take on coal:

For good measure, coal is affordable. On December 27, the New York Times ran a fascinating story titled "Burning Coal at Home Is Making a Comeback". While still a tiny fraction of the market, the story explained how the number of homes using coal as a heating fuel has risen. Coal consumption as a heating fuel, it was reported, hit a low in 2006, then rose by 7 percent in 2007 and more than 10 percent during the first eight months of 2008.

Opportunities have expanded for some small businesses. For example: "Dean Lehman, the plant manager for Hitzer Inc., a family-owned business in Berne, Ind., that makes smaller, indoor coal stoves, said his stoves were on back order until March. And Jeffery Gliem, the director of operations at the Reading Stove Company and its parent, Reading Anthracite, in Pottsville, Pa., which supplies coal and stoves to 15 states in the Northeast and Midwest, said the uptick in interest was the largest he had seen in 30 years. ‘In your typical year you might have five, six, seven thousand stoves being sold,’ Mr. Gliem said. ‘This year it was probably double that.’"

To get an idea on the cost differential, consider the following: "Coals vary in quality, but on average, a ton of coal contains about as much potential heat as 146 gallons of heating oil or 20,000 cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. A ton of anthracite, a particularly high grade of coal, can cost as little as $120 near mines in Pennsylvania. The equivalent amount of heating oil would cost roughly $380, based on the most recent prices in the state – and over $470 using prices from December 2007. An equivalent amount of natural gas would cost about $480 at current prices." 

UPDATE: The Heritage Foundation just released this series of questions for Chu, as well.