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State Ed rejects/questions plans for Bennett High School and MLK

The State Education Department said this week that the Buffalo Public Schools' plans to phase out and relaunch two struggling city schools aren't good enough. As noted in today's story, Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz said the district's plans to turn Bennett High School into a new STE@M Academy focused on science and technology must be delayed at least a year.

He also said the plans to turn Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute into a Medical Campus High School are insufficient. The district has until the end of next week to answer a slew of questions posed by the state.

Pain in the mouths -- what dentists know about Buffalo school children

According to a presentation made at a Buffalo School Board committee meeting last month, lots of Buffalo public school kids suffer from mouth pain.

According to the University Pediatric Dentistry, 1,391 children out of 11,316 surveyed missed at least one day of school because of mouth pain. Moreover, roughly a third of kids said they didn't regularly brush their teeth and have experienced mouth pain.

School board financial disclosures

Candidates running for the Buffalo school board were supposed to submit their first round of financial disclosures this week.

As usual, a number of them did not submit anything. Others reported that they had not collected the $500 required to itemize the contributions.

As today's story in the News notes, the most interesting disclosure came from Larry Quinn, whose contributors included a Who's Who of some of the most influential business leaders in the community.

Here are copies of the disclosures filed this week:

Buffalo School Board financial disclosures

Buffalo Public Schools budget update - still a $12 deficit

As noted in today's story, the Buffalo School Board held a special work session Thursday evening to discuss the ongoing budget deficit and suggestions on ways to help close the remaining gap.

To bring the deficit down from $19.5 million to $12.6 million, the district is recommending $7.6 million in cuts to special education personnel, $2.5 million in health care and $500,000 in savings by closing under-enrolled student programs. A remaining $12.6 million gap still exists.

Live blog at 5:30 p.m.: Buffalo School Board Meeting

The Buffalo school board will hold a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. The agenda and related materials can be here. Follow our live blog for updates from the meeting.

Homeless kids attending Buffalo Public Schools

There are 1,224 homeless students attending Buffalo Public Schools, according to a report given to the School Board last week during an Educational Support Services Committee meeting. The majority of these homeless students are children in elementary grades. Below is the grade-by-grade breakdown.

-- Sandra Tan

Homeless BPS Students 2013-14

How much state aid will your district get?

Criticism of Say Yes Syracuse and what it means for Say Yes Buffalo

In January, the American Institutes for Research released an analysis of how Say Yes to Education in Syracuse utilized school data to improve outcomes for students. It's conclusion presented some findings that were rather critical of Say Yes Syracuse and raise questions for Say Yes Buffalo:

From the project’s initiation, however, many conditions for productive data use were not in place in Syracuse. For example, existing data resources were not comprehensive and did not lend themselves to analysis and evaluation goals; leadership regarding data resources was not consistent; little support for administrators’ and teachers’ data use existed; and some educators in SCSD considered the burden of additional data collection to outweigh the benefits.

School board election watch

This will be a busy week for candidates vying for the three open seats on the Buffalo school board.

The first round of financial disclosures are due today. Nominating petitions are due tomorrow, and already some candidates are filing. Bernie Tolbert was the first to submit his on Friday, and Sergio Rodriguez was at the Board of Elections office filing his this morning.

Both sets of filings are expected to trickle in throughout the week, since they just have to be postmarked by the deadline.

Watch the School Zone blog for updates on who is filing, donating and carrying petitions in this year's race.

At least a dozen candidates are expected to enter the race for the May 6 election to fill three at-large seats carrying five-year terms.

Commissioner King's ruling on Paladino's petition to oust Nevergold

As noted in today's story, State Education Commissioner John King has denied Carl Paladino's petitions to have School Board President Barbara Nevergold removed from office. Below is King's decision regarding Paladino's second petition, which alleged that Nevergold does not legally hold her seat because she didn't run for election in May 2013, the year after her appointment.

Below is King's decision regarding Paladino's second petition. The most interesting stuff is in the last two pages. If you have difficulty reading the embedded document below, follow this link:

-- Sandra Tan

King's Decision on Paladino Petition 3-12

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |