BUFFALO, NY - With the latest numbers showing that less than half of Buffalo Public School students graduate, and that less than ten-percent of those who do are "college ready", an idea last discussed two years ago to improve things is starting to be whispered about again.
The takeover by New York State of Buffalo Public Schools.
However, Lt. Governor Robert Duffy said he doubts it's something Governor Andrew Cuomo would seek to do.
"I don't believe the state is the best foster parent to take over anything," Duffy told WGRZ-TV, while in Amherst visiting GEICO Insurance, which marked a milestone by announcing its local workforce had reached 2,500 employees.
"I think the Governor would prefer that the results come locally come from the ground up. He has not discussed this yet, but that would be a last resort. I would hope there could be a number of things to be done before it gets to that," Duffy said.
Instances of the state taking over a local school district are rare indeed. The only such occurrence in the past decade was on Long Island in a district where student performance only improved slightly, while district finances did not.
During his previous job as Mayor of Rochester, however, Duffy pushed hard for the state to grant his office "mayoral control" of the city's Board of Education, meaning the Mayor would appoint school board members who are now currently elected.
There was actually a bill before state lawmakers to do that, but Duffy left his post to become Cuomo's running mate before it was voted on, and the idea died after Duffy stepped down.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has never been a proponent of mayoral control of the city's school board, and though he says he has "great concern" about the current graduation rate, he says he's not still not ready to advocate for it now.
"The community would first have to say loudly and clearly that it wants its city government and its Mayor to take control of its schools," Brown told WGRZ-TV.
"I've heard some people in the community talking about it," Brown acknowledged, "but I think if it gets to the point where it's a real community wide call then it would make it easier to get that through Albany and for the Governor to heed that call."
Brown says his administration is trying to do its part by funding additional attendance teachers, in hopes of stemming the tide of absenteeism which he believes is the root cause of both poor student performance and graduation rates.
"Right from the beginning of the educational process, when students don't attend school, they begin to fall behind and it's awfully hard for them to catch up unless that pattern is broken," Brown said.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave Mckinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2