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City schools make tough choices on closings

      Faced with financial uncertainties and declining enrollment, the Buffalo Public Schools are proposing that five schools be closed next year and a sixth be phased out.

   Closing schools is one of the toughest jobs a Board of Education can face. Inevitably, parents rise up in protest. Schools are deeply entrenched community anchors, and emotional connections are strong.

   But school officials say their recommendations are solid and based on extensive data. Students who must switch schools will have good and logical alternatives. The city simply has too many schools, they say, and downsizing makes both educational and economic sense.

   Public hearings will be held on the proposed school closing before the Board of Education acts in November.

   Will the current proposals hold up? How firm should the board be in backing the recommendations of their staff? And are they doing enough to cut costs as enrollment continues to decline?

  -- Peter Simon

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