After the Buffalo Public Schools lost out on $42 million in school turnaround grant funds in September, the State Education Department granted the district a do-over. Deadline: Oct. 4 -- which is today.
Two weeks ago, Buffalo Superintendent James A. Williams told me it would be no problem to make the revisions the state required. In fact, he said the district would have its revised application completed by Sept. 30. That was last Thursday.
It didn't happen.
Those familiar with the inner workings of City Hall say this is typical of the district in recent years: Williams comes out with grand promises, then leaves it to those below him to scramble to try to make it happen.
While City Hall administrators including Amber Dixon, Debra Sykes and Debra Buckley were putting in marathon hours the past few days to complete the application, Williams was a few hundred miles away, attending a conference in Baltimore.
As I write this, Williams is back in town. And his grant application team, apparently, is still putting the finishing touches on the application.
At this point, one thing is clear: Even FedEx wouldn't be able to get the application delivered to State Ed by the time it's signed and sealed. Instead, someone will have to drive the application today from Buffalo to Albany.
Let's hope they don't get stuck in traffic.
In the meantime, we'll be doing our homework back here in Buffalo to find out exactly what the final grant application contains. Earlier drafts suggest the district seems to have revised the application to meet the requirements that State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner and Senior Deputy Commissioner John B. King Jr. laid out for the Buffalo Public Schools.
Stay tuned for more details.
The application has reportedly made its way to Albany, as of 4 p.m. today -- via e-mail, of all things. How very 2010.
Meanwhile, district officials have said they will not comment on the application until the state reviews it. Apparently, their secrecy extends even to the people who hire and fire the superintendent. Board President Ralph Hernandez says Williams still has not provided him with a copy of the application.
-- Mary Pasciak