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Buffalo School Board Makes Decision on Failing Schools

7:48 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY--The Buffalo School Board voted to make Johns Hopkins the educational partnership organization for East and Lafayette high schools, and allow students at both schools to take classes with BOCES.

Every board member voted for the plan, except for Carl Paladino.

State Education Commissioner John King gave the district until August 12th to decide between two plans involving BOCES programs, but the board opted to vote on it Wednesday night.

The Buffalo School Board decided on the plan that involves giving parents the option of sending their children to BOCES, but it comes with a multi-million dollar price tag.

And, it is not a done deal because the State Education Commissioner still has to sign off on it.

"They do have some very good programs and they do offer some programs that we don't offer here in the district, so we think it's the best of both worlds," said School Board President Barbara Nevergold about BOCES.

The district also wants to stay with the Johns Hopkins educational turnaround experts to fix graduation rates at East and Lafayette High Schools.

"You can't submit the same application that they had previously submitted and the previous application was for Johns Hopkins to be the EPO, and that's just what they voted on. It's going to be rejected by the state. You have to understand that the state found problems with that application, and these people apparently just don't get it," he says.

The second option under consideration would have given BOCES full authority over both high schools, something the BOCES superintendent said would not be feasible this close to the start of the school year.

Paladino says for parents trying to plan for the school year, there are still a lot of uncertainties.

"I don't have answers to all those questions. I just know that we could've been a little more creative in the way we approached the response," he says.

Keeping Johns Hopkins as the Educational Partnership Organization also comes with a hefty price: $2.2-$5.2-million.

The district would pay for Johns Hopkins' services, as well as BOCES, busing and a longer school day, plus, the unknown cost of making BOCES classes available to students who do not speak English as their primary language.

"We're working within the constraints that we've been given, and I hope that the state will understand that and that they will work with us so that we can move forward with our plan," says Nevergold.

All of that money would have to come from budget cuts, grants and the district's contingency account. The state will not help out.

The board said Wednesday night that it will present this first draft of its plan to the state before the August 12 deadline.

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