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Board members want crackdown on suburban students attending Buffalo schools

Buffalo school board members spent about 20 minutes last week talking about the need to ensure that suburban students aren't lying about their home addresses so that they can attend certain Buffalo public schools. Though rumors are common, and the district has the ability to investigate individual cases, there hasn't yet been any large-scale investigation of how many offenders might be out there.

While the board may be divided in many respects, they were united in their concern about parents who live outside the City of Buffalo but may be fraudulently claiming a city address to send their children to high-performing city schools like City Honors.

In light of the district's recently approved student transfer plan, which requires the district to honor the transfer requests of students wishing to move from low-performing schools into better ones, the district has no seats to spare for non-Buffalo residents, board members said. 

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Finally State Says Yes to Student Transfer Plan

It's taken four tries, but at last, the state has finally given its blessing to the district's plan to transfer kids out of under-performing schools and into better schools.

Not everyone is happy about it. Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, said that  while the teachers union is pleased that the plan has finally been approved, "we still believe that transferring students out of what is allegedly a poor performing school does nothing for the students that remain. All in all...this plan is obviously designed by people who know nothing about education."

Before schools administrators start celebrating too much, the state pointed out a few items that need to be cleared up still. For instance, the district can't use a lottery system to place transfer students. And regular meetings should be scheduled throughout the school year to keep parents informed of their school choice options for the 2014-15 year. 

Even with the loose ends, it's still a big step forward the Buffalo Board of Education. 

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Teach for America makes a push in Buffalo

Teach for America, a national program aimed at providing strong teachers to low-income school districts, hopes to partner with Buffalo City Schools to provide 25-30 teachers in classrooms with the highest needs next school year.

The teachers, who would agree to a two-year commitment under the Teach for America program, would offer the district more teacher diversity, greater focus on low-income student learning, and academic background in hard-to-staff subject areas, said Katie Campos, managing director of Community Engagement for Teach for America.

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Buffalo school district gets upgraded bond rating

In a bright spot for Buffalo school finances, Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the district's bond rating to Aa3 and revised its outlook for the district from "stable" to "positive."

The rating upgrade makes it cheaper for for the school district to borrow money for projects. The higher the credit rating, the lower the perceived risk to investors, which allows the district to gain a more favorable borrowing rate.

This positive development has less to do with the fiscal health of the Buffalo school district and more to do with the state's fiscal health, but we'll take good news wherever we can find it.

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You'll get this year's Buffalo school calendar by Thanksgiving, maybe...

One of the most frustrating issues for parents in Buffalo Public Schools is that getting information about small things is often as difficult as getting information about big things. The 2013-14 school calendar is a prime example.

While every other area school district publishes and distributes their calendars by early September, the Buffalo school district waits until the school year is nearly half over before publishing its school calendar. This year is no different. It appears the Buffalo school district doesn't think parents deserve to get a hard copy of their child's school calendar until the holiday season unless they are willing and able to download it online.

Given the fact that the school calendar is approved by the school board in June, the reasons for a five- to six-month printing delay are unfathomable. By the time parents get the calendar, next year's school registration process will be almost over and all the school open houses will have passed.

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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 |