By Jill Terreri
The timing of Mayor Byron Brown's announcement that the city will spend $400,000 to fund band and orchestra programs that had been cut in 14 public schools raised a few eyebrows. He explained at his big announcement yesterday, complete with children playing instruments, that he had been at work on a solution for a month and a half. Whatever the reason, the announcement was made one month before the Democratic primary, where he will face former FBI Special Agent in Charge Bernie Tolbert.
Tolbert pointed out that on the subject of the school district, Brown frequently notes that he has no governance over it.
“Yet now, in the midst of the campaign to elect the Mayor of Buffalo and twenty four hours before the first debate in the campaign, Mayor Brown miraculously finds the power to leverage $400,000 from somewhere in the city’s general fund to restore music programs in some of the city schools?," Tolbert said in a statement. "So as the Buffalo Public School System struggle with issues of declining student proficiency and a rising number of failing schools, the mayor finally decides to step forward to help bring music to some of the schools? That’s not leadership.”
Republican Sergio Rodriguez was critical of Brown, too. "This is simply a last-minute election year attempt by the mayor to create the impression that he has somehow been involved in our children's education," he said.
One caveat to that announcement yesterday. Though Brown said all 14 schools that expected cuts in their music programs would see some restorations, information from the district shows otherwise.
My colleage Sandra Tan reports on her blog today that both Riverside and Bennett high schools will not see their programs restored, though "further tweaks" by the district are possible.
taggedBernie Tolbert | Byron Brown | education | Elections | Mayoral Race 2013 | Sergio Rodriguez