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Buffalo's next round of persistently lowest-achieving schools

Sometime in the next few weeks, the State Education Department is going to release the next list of "persistently lowest-achieving" schools in New York. Once a school gets the label, it's eligible for up to $6 million over three years to implement a turnaround plan, which could include closing in its present format.

Last school year, as you may recall, that list included seven schools in Buffalo: Bennett, Burgard, Lafayette and South Park high schools; Riverside Institute of Technology; Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute; International School 45.

This year, another seven Buffalo schools will acquire the unwanted designation, numerous officials have confirmed. State Ed has not yet announced which schools those will be -- but district officials have indicated some of the schools the seven may be drawn from:

Grabiarz school - Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (School 6)
- Bilingual Center (School 33)
- Futures Academy (School 37)
- Lovejoy Discovery School 43
- Dr. Charles Drew Science Magnet (School 59)
- Grabiarz School of Excellence (School 79) (pictured at right)
- West Hertel Elementary School 94
- Waterfront School 95
- Campus West School 96
- Grover Cleveland High School

We already know that Grover Cleveland is in its final year anyway, so it seems there would not be much point in naming a soon-to-be-nonexistent school to a watch list. 

That means we still don't know which seven of the remaining nine will make the state's watch list. 

Earlier, we reported, based on a presentation to the board, that all the district's PLA schools for this year would be drawn from the list above. Amber Dixon, who oversees accountability in the Buffalo Public Schools, clarified that the list of 10 schools noted above are just some of the schools that could be identified as persistently lowest-achieving. Some Buffalo high schools could, in fact, also land on the list, she says.

(You might remember that last year, when four Buffalo high schools landed on the watch list, Superintendent James A. Williams often pointed out that in his first five years here, the district focused its efforts on improving instruction at the elementary level, and had made great gains...)

Worth noting: The district has already announced plans to close Campus West, whose lease with Buffalo State College expires in June. And staff report that administrators have told them that Grabiarz School will technically close at the end of this school year, and reopen as a pre-k through eighth grade building next year (it's currently grades give through eight).

Could City Hall be planning ahead for the restructuring plans it's going to be required to submit next spring?

- Mary Pasciak

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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 |