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Busy week for Buffalo schools kicks off with boycott

Another busy week is on tap for the Buffalo Public Schools.

Events begin today with the parent-organized boycott of the schools, which is designed to draw attention to problems in the district and bring key stakeholders to the table to work out solutions. Opinions on the boycott itself are certainly split, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who's going to argue against the ultimate goal, which is finding concrete ways to help more kids succeed in school and graduate.

The boycott of today's half-day of instruction will be followed by a noontime rally in front of City Hall (to be moved inside, to the lobby, if the rain becomes a problem), and later, by a prayer vigil at 6 p.m. in the same location.

You can follow our live blog of today's events, including the City Hall rally, here at the School Zone.

In the meantime, the Board of Education will meet behind closed doors at 5 p.m. to continue with its annual evaluation of Superintendent James A. Williams. Board members had until Friday to submit their individual evaluations of the superintendent. Chris Jacobs planned to compile the results over the weekend, and then share them with the entire board this evening.

It's unclear whether the board will release the composite results of the evaluation today, or wait until later in the week.

Speaking of the board, Pamela Cahill's term serving the Ferry District ended on Friday, when her resignation took effect. So the board is now officially down to eight members until it appoints someone to fill Cahill's seat.

The deadline for applications for that seat had been Friday, May 13 -- but because of low interest, the board last week voted to extend the deadline to noon on Friday, May 20, for anyone wanting to be considered for the Ferry District seat.

But the school-related action will hardly be relegated to the Queen City this week.

The Board of Regents meets today and Tuesday, with plenty of big-ticket items on the agenda.

Senior Deputy Commissioner John King is expected to be appointed as the new state education commissioner this week, to replace David Steiner, who will be stepping down. But ever since Steiner announced a few weeks ago that he planned to resign, it seemed -- at least from our perch here in Buffalo -- that King might as well already have been named the No. 1 guy in Albany, from the looks of things.

The Board of Regents this week also will be voting on regulations for the new teacher and principal evaluations, something that will be closely followed in faculty rooms and kitchens across the state.

Also on the Regents' agenda: figuring out a way to deal with the shortfall in funding for Regents exams, and talking about how and when to present the latest set of data for graduation rates.

And if that all weren't enough in the world of education this week, suburban voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots on school budgets and board elections.

You'll be able to find complete coverage of everything from the boycott to the budget votes and the Board of Regents here at The Buffalo News, starting with a live blog of today's boycott and rally, through the morning and early afternoon.

- Mary Pasciak

E-mail me at or follow me on Follow  SchoolZoneBlog on Twitter Twitter. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at

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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 |