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Live blog at 5:30 p.m.: Buffalo School Board meeting on Lafayette & East

Live blog of the second special meeting called by the Buffalo Board of Education in response to Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.'s directive that East and Lafayette high schools be required to partner with Erie 1 BOCES. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.

Interestingly, the district has has issued both media alerts and robocalls to parents regarding this meeting. There's a rally planned beforehand. Click here for the agenda.

Another grant application rejected by the state

The State Education Department sent a letter to the district today (Tuesday) informing the superintendent that its July 1 application for millions in federal grant money for Highgate Heights Elementary School No. 80 is incomplete and deficient in numerous areas.

The letter represents another knock against the district's ability to consistently meet state requirements when submitting its grant applications for millions in federal school turnaround money. Its repeated failure to submit approvable applications for Lafayette and East high schools is what's landed the district in its current mad scramble to meet unpredecented mandates by State Education Commissioner John King.

Continue reading "Another grant application rejected by the state" »

Pushing back against the state

It seemed like everyone was on the State Education Department's case on Monday. Teachers, administrators, council members, board members, Assembly members, you name it. Much of Monday's rhetoric was an extension of ongoing complaints that run along the lines of: "How dare the state do this to us. Good things are happening here. What do they know?"

"You just take away everything because someone downtown didn't fill out an application properly?" said Anne Blonski, an eighth-grade teacher at Lafayette.

I've been interested in a couple of things: Where does the state get the authority to require Buffalo to partner with BOCES (Ryan raised this issue in passing Monday), and how will the Buffalo school district pay for any plans it has to both partner with BOCES and continue the role of Johns Hopkins University.

Continue reading "Pushing back against the state" »

Asking what went wrong

Buffalo school board member James Sampson is submitting a resolution for consideration at this Wednesday's board meeting asking that Superintendent Brown submit a detailed report about how and why the district has repeatedly failed to submit acceptable grant applications for Lafayette and East high schools. The News will live blog the Wednesday meeting.

Continue reading "Asking what went wrong" »

Grant money - win some, lose some

As noted in our story, the Buffalo school district seems to have great difficulty submitting approvable applications to the state when it comes to federal School Improvement Grant money. In many cases, the district is successful on its second attempt, but not always.

Nevertheless, the state has awarded Buffalo Public Schools more than $82 million in SIG money to 18 Buffalo schools since 2010. It'll be interesting to see the extent to which this money boosts achievement.

Continue reading "Grant money - win some, lose some" »

I'm officially a twit (or tweeter, whatever)

OK, I've taken the plunge and opened a Twitter account. For those of you on Twitter, you'll find me @BNschoolzone

Suggestions welcome as to who I should follow and how you guys might want me to make use of my new account. Personally, I think my b/w photo makes me look rather unfriendly, so I'm searching for a better one. I know I've got one here at The News. I just can't find it yet...

Instrumental music restorations expected

Buffalo school district administrators are making progress in restoring some money to the band and orchestra programs that were cut from 14 city schools for this coming school year. Below is a letter from Superintendent Pamela Brown regarding the progress. It doesn't say a whole lot but suggests that some final decisions on the restoration of music programs will be announced soon.

I expect the district is finalizing details regarding where the money will come to at least partially restore most of these programs.

Continue reading "Instrumental music restorations expected" »

Good stuff that didn't make the story

Some editors say that a measure of a story's importance is how much information is still left in your notebook after you've finished writing. There was plenty left in mine after finishing my write up about the graduation rates of Buffalo's six worst-performing high schools.

Some interesting highlights that didn't make the paper but are worth noting:

Continue reading "Good stuff that didn't make the story" »

2012-13 school attendance rates

As part of an in-depth story I've been working on regarding the graduation rates for the lowest-performing high schools in Buffalo, I requested the latest report on school attendance data. Not surprisingly, the schools with the weakest attendance also had the weakest graduation rates.

For the last three years, Riverside High School has ranked last, with a quarter of its students failing to show up at school on average. (Riverside's graduation rate for 2012 was 24 percent.) The district's overall average daily attendance for this past school year was 90.6 percent.

Continue reading "2012-13 school attendance rates" »

The rejection letter

When state officials came to Buffalo last week, Buffalo school leaders had a pressing question for them: Where did we go wrong?

Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz declined at that time to ennumerate the ways that the Buffalo school district failed in its application for millions of dollars in school turnaround money for Lafayette and East high schools. But Buffalo school representatives did prevail upon the state to issue a letter outlining the administration's missteps in writing.

Continue reading "The rejection letter" »

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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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