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Who wants to run Buffalo's failing schools?

With the Buffalo Public Schools under the gun to get turnaround plans in by Jan. 1 for seven failing schools, the district is -- again -- asking outside groups to submit proposals.

While the deadline for those proposals isn't until next week, each group that plans to submit a proposal had to file an initial notice with the district late last week.

Fourteen groups -- eight local and six out of town -- have filed an initial notice.

Lafayette HSBefore I do the big reveal, let's do a quick recap of how this went down last time around, so as to better understand what's happening this time.

In June, 12 groups submitted proposals to run anywhere from one to seven of Buffalo's failing schools. The district asked for proposals only from educational partnership organizations -- not from charter management organizations. (State officials said the district needed to get sign-off from the teachers union on the turnaround plans. The union opposed plans to move teachers. So the School Board opted to go with hiring an EPO to run each school -- the only turnaround model that Rumore backed.)

Once the proposals came in from prospective EPOs, the School Board ended up deciding not to submit turnaround plans for four of the schools -- Buffalo Elementary School of Technology, East High School, Futures Academy and Waterfront Elementary.

The board approved plans to have Buffalo State College run Lafayette High School; the Buffalo Museum of Science run Dr. Charles Drew Science Magnet School 59; and First Hand Learning run Bilingual Center School 33.

But the state rejected the district's plans for those schools.

Since then, the state has told district officials they must submit new turnaround plans for all seven schools by Jan. 1 -- and they must use a variety of models, not all EPOs. So this time around, the district asked for proposals from EPOs as well as charter management organizations.

Here's a quick rundown on who has filed an initial intent to apply. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean all of these groups will end up submitting full proposals. Once the actual proposals are submitted, I'll be giving you a lot more info on each one.

At this juncture, the outside groups were not required to indicate whether they would be filing as EPOs or CMOs, although some did make that clear.

The groups are:

- Buffalo State College was selected this summer by the board to run Lafayette as an EPO, but the state rejected the plan. Buff State has again indicated its intent to submit a proposal for Lafayette.

- Gateway-Longview submitted an EPO proposal this summer to run Futures Academy, which the School Board rejected. It's not clear which school or schools Gateway-Longview is interested in this time around.

- First Hand Learning submitted a proposal as an EPO this summer to run Bilingual Center School 33, and was selected by the board. That plan, though, was among those not approved by the state. First Hand Learning plans to submit another plan for the same school.

- Center for Social Organization of Schools of the Johns Hopkins University has not indicated which schools, or how many, it might be interested in running.

- West Buffalo Charter School plans to submit a proposal for one school, but it's not clear which school. This group got approval from the state to open in September 2010, but has not been able to find a physical location to operate out of.

- Chameleon Community Schools Project, a local group affiliated with attorney Steven Polowitz, has indicated interest in closing one to three of the schools and reopening them as charters, but it's not clear which schools. Polowitz had had conversations with James Williams in the months before Williams stepped down as superintendent, and he indicated to Polowitz that he thought the time was right for conversion charters. Those conversations, though, seemed to happen largely without the knowledge or sign-off on the School Board.

- PLC Associates is based in Pittsford, just outside Rochester. It's not clear which school or schools they're interested in.

- Community Action Organization of Erie County submitted proposals this summer for Futures Academy and East High School. The board did not accept either of them. CAO has signaled its intent to submit proposals for the same schools this time.

- Canisius College has jumped into the fray this time around. The first time around, when the district asked for proposals this summer, plenty of board members and others in the district were disappointed that only one local college or university submitted a proposal. This time around, Canisius has joined Buffalo State in its interest. Canisius is interested in one school, but it's not clear which one.

- Prosperity 716 lists a mailing address of 652 Main St. in East Aurora, which also happens to be the mailing address of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce. This group has expressed interest in Lafayette.

- Frazier Academy Design Team, a group from Chicago, has expressed interest in BEST, Futures and Waterfront. Frazier uses the same mailing address as Frazier Preparatory Academy, a charter school in Chicago.

- Distinctive Schools, also out of Chicago, has indicated interest in "several" schools, but it's not clear which ones. Distinctive Schools operates three K-8 campuses of Chicago International Charter School.

- The Research to Practice Group is a Long Island group that includes several high-profile names, such as Manny Rivera, the former Rochester superintendent; Rudy Crew, the former Miami-Dade County superintendent; and McGraw-Hill Education. This summer, Research to Practice submitted EPO proposals to run all seven failing schools. It's not clear how many schools they're interested in this time around.

- ASCD (once known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), out of Alexandria, Va., is a membership organization that provides various conferences and other events and publications related to education. It's not clear which schools, or how many, ASCD is interested in.

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/SchoolZoneBlog    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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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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