We know, we know ... choosing the best place to raise kids on Long Island is like choosing the favorite among your own children. Each area has its own special characteristics. However, what follows is a list of some of the standout neighborhoods in terms of schools, libraries and outdoor recreation:
Best School Districts
Ranking Long Island's best public schools is a tricky business. Anyone with online access can check school report cards at the state Education Department Web site. But how really to compare?
A few select districts always seem to pop up when regional or national finalists are announced in the Intel science competition: Schreiber High School in Port Washington; Ward Melville in East Setauket and the Wheatley School, run by the East Williston district.
Two years ago, nine local high schools appeared in Newsweek's magazine's list of the nation's top 100 high schools. Jericho topped the rankings, followed by Cold Spring Harbor (16th); Great Neck South (22nd); Manhasset (30th); Great Neck North (43rd); South Side (45th) in Rockville Centre; Port Jefferson's Earl L. Vandermeulen (64th); Miller Place (73rd), and the Wheatley School (85th).
Newsweek's methodology, however, was not universally embraced. The magazine simply counted the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests taken - regardless of the scores posted by the students - then divided the sum by the number of graduating seniors.
Last year, Newsday conducted a survey based on Advanced Placement performance. It showed the numbers of students from area high schools who received a "3" or better on Advanced Placement exams - the standard students must attain to receive credit from most colleges. (Six of the Island's 124 district declined to participate.) On average, the survey found that 28 percent of Long Island's seniors in 2005 scored at least a "3" on at least one AP exam.
The top scoring public high schools in each county, and the percentage of seniors who scored a 3 or better:
NASSAU: 1. Jericho (67.0); 2. Great Neck South (66.7); 3. Miller-Great Neck North (61.5); 4. Manhasset (60.8); 5. Roslyn (60.8); 6. The Wheatley School (54.0); 7. Syosset (50.2); 8. Garden City (50.0); 9. John F. Kennedy (Bellmore-Merrick schools; 49.0); 10. North Shore (47.2)
SUFFOLK: 1. Cold Spring Harbor (73.5); 2. Half Hollow Hills West, Dix Hills (51.3); 3. Earl L. Vandermeulen, Port Jefferson schools (48.9); 4. Half Hollows Hills East (42.3); 5. Mattituck (46.4); 6. Harborfields (44.4); 7. Northport (41.8); 8. John H. Glenn (Elwood; 38.0); 9. Smithtown West (37); 10. Three Village (36.1).