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Superintendent cancels school; parents push for trigger

Some Friday tidbits:

Superintendent James A. Williams decided to cancel the last day of school, which was scheduled for Friday, June 24.

Here's the call that went out to parents and staff:

The district has completed more than the required amount of days (180) for the 2010/11 school year, therefore the last day of school for students has been adjusted to Thursday, June 23rd. Students will not report to school on Friday, June 24th.

All high school graduations planned for Friday, June 24th will proceed as scheduled. A complete list of graduation ceremonies is available on the district website.

Staff should report to school June 24th, as scheduled. This presents an excellent opportunity to pack boxes, prepare rooms for the summer, and for teachers to correct Regents Exams.

I'm hearing mixed reactions on this.

Some people are pleased as punch, and say that not much happens on the last day of school anyway, so it's not much of a loss.

Others I've heard from are rather irritated, for two main reasons:

First, the superintendent frequently emphasizes the importance of students attending school every day. Canceling a day of school seems to run contrary to that.

Second, working parents with younger children are going to have to arrange for an additional day of child care unexpectedly.

Board President Ralph Hernandez said he was aware that the last day of school had been canceled. The superintendent told him it would be a good opportunity to provide some staff development. I'm waiting to hear back from the superintendent or a designee on what staff development will be scheduled for Friday.

In other news, parents are continuing to push to get the parent trigger law passed before this legislative session ends in Albany.

They agreed Wednesday to a few changes, including making the bill applicable only to Buffalo. When they met with Catherine Nolan, chair of the Assembly's education committee, she seemed supportive, parents say.

"It seemed as though if it was a Buffalo-only bill, Nolan would support it," said parent leader Sam Radford.

So when Nolan told my colleague Tom Precious on Thursday that she did not embrace the measure, parents and their supporters were rather surprised. (Likewise, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes told me Nolan seemed unlikely to support the bill this session. In light of the lack of support from Nolan for the bill this session, Peoples-Stokes said she was hoping to arrange public hearings on the bill this summer.)

Buffalo ReformED, the group working with parents to get the bill passed, is now focusing their efforts on Nolan, asking her to bring the bill to the education committee and invite Buffalo parents to testify on Monday.

The focus in Albany is clearly on other issues, namely the Marriage Equality Act. The News has not yet been able to get a response from Nolan on parent trigger, but once we do, we'll keep you posted.

And back in Buffalo, Board of Ed member Chris Jacobs appears to be the likely GOP candidate for county clerk.

He can retain his seat on the board and simultaneously run for county office.

However, the board will elect its own officers on July 1. Jacobs currently serves as vice president for executive affairs -- a position that's likely to become fairly critical in the coming year, as the board goes about finding someone to replace Williams, who is leaving in June 2012.

We'll find out at the board meeting July 1 whether Jacobs will try to retain that key board position while also running for county office.

- 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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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