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District Profile

For discriminating parents like Susan Rutledge, there are more than 80 private and parochial schools to choose from in and around her home of Pearl River, N.Y., just some 20 miles from New York City.

Imagine having to fly in a twin-engine airplane to visit one of your schools. Average round-trip price: $2,500. But, there is no other way, and worse yet, weather frequently interferes.

Union City, N.J., has a picturesque view of Manhattan from across the Hudson River. But the picture of Union City wasn't so bright 12 years ago.

By the looks of the district now, one would never know it was on the verge of being taken over by the state in 1989 after failing 44 of 52 state indicators used to assess schools. Attendance, dropout rates and standardized test scores were below state and national averages in the district that has 85 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunches.