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And the final school turnaround plans are...

As many of you know, the Buffalo Public Schools had until Monday to submit turnaround plans for nine low-performing schools.

The Board of Education last Thursday approved those plans, without actually seeing copies of those plans. A number of board members I spoke with were under the impression that no actual plans existed -- and maybe at that point in time, that was true.

The board, you might recall, approved the restart model for seven schools, which will involve the district hiring an outside educational partnership organization (EPO) to run each school.

So board members seemed to be under the impression that the district was going to submit to the State Education Department only a request for proposals for an EPO for each school.

It turns out that the district did, in fact, submit a full plan for each school, more or less.

That being said, the seven EPO model plans do bear striking resemblances to each other. By my count, a full nine pages of those turnaround plans are copied and pasted, with only the school name changed where necessary. That, apparently, is because the outside groups who bid to be EPOs for these schools will have to submit specific plans and budgets, so the district simply used a boilerplate for that portion of the plans.

Will that fly with State Ed?

We'll find out in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, there's a whole lot of valuable information I'd like to share with you about these nine schools.

First: The district had to appoint a Joint Intervention Team (JIT) to visit each low-performing school for a couple of days and submit a report summarizing its findings and recommendations.

That JIT report is supposed to serve as the basis for each school's turnaround plan.

Second: Each school's turnaround plan, which is supposed to outline how that school will improve its performance. Each plan should outline how the $2 million per year, for three years, in federal funds will be effectively spent.

So I am providing you with the JIT report and final turnaround plan for each school. Enjoy.

And let me know what you think of the plans.

The high schools:

Burgard High School: Burgard JIT report; Burgard turnaround plan

Overview: The district submitted a plan for Burgard last summer, after the school was initially identified as low-achieving. (The state rejected that plan, along with a revised version of it.) Much of the core elements of that original plan seem largely intact in this version. Burgard will build on its vocational programs. The plan calls for a "differentiated automotive" program to be available for special education students needing a small class setting.

East High School: East JIT report; East turnaround plan

Overview: At one point, district officials announced plans to make East an all-boys high school, geared toward African-American males. That plan faced substantial opposition from some board members. This plan does not include specific provisions for making East an all-boys school (although it does mention addressing the low graduation rate of that population). Instead, the emphasis is on making it a community school.

Lafayette High School: Lafayette JIT report; Lafayette turnaround plan

Overview: Lafayette was identified as persistently lowest-achieving more than a year ago. The district submitted plans to turn around Lafayette twice last year, but those plans were rejected by the state. This plan for Lafayette incorporates many elements of the plans submitted last year. The school is to become the "International High School at Lafayette," serving students in grades 7-12, in partnership with International School 45, which would serve the lower grades.

Riverside High School: Riverside JIT report; Riverside turnaround plan

Overview: Riverside, like Burgard and Lafayette, was identified more than a year ago as persistently lowest-achieving. This plan appears very similar to the plan the district submitted unsuccessfully last year for Riverside. A cornerstone of the plan is the establishment of three academy programs: finance, health, and entrepreneurship.

The elementary schools:

Bilingual Center School 33: Bilingual Center JIT report; Bilingual Center turnaround plan

Overview: Forty-eight percent of the Bilingual Center's students are not native English speakers. The plan calls for setting clear goals for the bilingual program in the building. Also, it urges turning the school into a "Global Center" that encourages all students to learn Spanish as a second language and offers courses in Spanish to adults.

Buffalo Elementary School of Technology: BEST JIT report; BEST turnaround plan

Overview: The plan calls for an emphasis on what's known in education circles as STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. 

Drew Science Magnet: Drew JIT report; Drew turnaround plan

Overview: Drew is located adjacent to the Buffalo Museum of Science. The school's turnaround plan calls for strengthening the school's identity as a science magnet by overcoming discipline problems, low expectations and low literacy and math scores. 

Futures Academy: Futures Academy JIT report; Futures Academy turnaround plan

Overview: At one point, district officials said they wanted to turn Futures into an all-girls school. They have since dropped that idea. The current plan calls for making Futures into a community school, serving the Fruit Belt.

Waterfront School: Waterfront JIT report; Waterfront turnaround plan

Overview: The population of English language learners at Waterfront grew to 24 percent this year. A cornerstone of the school's plan involves establishing an International Baccalaureate program in the school, to fit with the international student population there.

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at mpasciak@buffnews.com or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at www.buffalonews.com/schools.

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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 | djgee@buffnews.com


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 | tlankes@buffnews.com


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 | stan@buffnews.com


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 | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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