November 24, 2013 - 6:00 AM
Today, The News takes a look at the controversy in the Hamburg schools. One of the points of contention has been the district's decision to change attorneys.
Shortly after taking a seat on the Hamburg School Board, Sally Stephenson successfully pushed for the removal of the Harris Beach law firm as the district’s attorneys, replacing Harris Beach with James D. Tresmond, 73.
Before a special July meeting, Stephenson had already formed a majority to dismiss Harris Beach and hire Tresmond at $110,000 a year.
November 24, 2013 - 6:00 AM
Today, The News takes a look at the controversy in the Hamburg schools. Problems in the Hamburg School District are mirrored in legal actions and legal costs.
Those costs were just over $11,000 four years ago.
They skyrocketed to $263,000 in the 2010-11 school year.
Fees were about $80,000 the following year.
And last school year, when the district sued over the executive session tape, it paid Harris Beach $104,093 for legal services.
November 22, 2013 - 2:40 PM
Buffalo school officials are still pondering what to do with Middle Early College High School, which is located in a leased space inside one of board member Carl Paladino’s buildings.
The lease at 290 Main St. expires in December, but the consensus among board members is to let the school stay where it is until the end of the school year.
Where to put it after that was the question school officials have yet to answer.
The district has two empty buildings - 187 and 56, and one thought was that high school could go into one of them.
But after Wednesday’s presentation by Buffalo Schools architect Paul McDonnell about how much it would cost, board members dropped that idea and resurrected one that Superintendent Pamela Brown proposed some months ago: housing the school inside another one.
November 21, 2013 - 1:12 PM
Maybe it’s true that extending school days and years can be vital to educating children in urban districts.
But as the Buffalo Board of Education found out, it’s also very expensive and so costly that the district is exploring another option instead.
To extend the school day from six hours and 50 minutes to 7.5 hours - or one class period - it would cost the district $48 million for the whole year. And the price tag to extend the school year by 14 days for a total of 200 days is $1.4 million per day.
And that's just for teachers to work the extra hours, explained Barbara Smith, the district’s financial officer.
November 21, 2013 - 7:00 AM
Buffalo is a high-poverty urban community, so it's understandable that Buffalo teachers may sometimes struggle with children who are going to school wearing dirty clothes and smelling bad. Such conditions might ordinarily prompt a call to a school social worker and direct contact with a child's parents.
But a pre-kindergarten teacher at BUILD Academy, came up with her own novel approach last week. She sent home with every classroom student a copy of a handwritten "URGENT NOTICE!" saying that several of the 3- and 4-year-old children in her class were dirty, stinky and "difficult for me to be close to them or even want to touch them. Enough said."
November 20, 2013 - 12:11 PM
State Education Commissioner John King has been traveling the state to listen to the public on Common Core and other state education reform initiatives.
But despite including Amherst on an initial list of locations he plans to hold a public forum, no details have been released about when or where that meeting might be held.
A forum schedule posted on the state Department of Education website includes only a meeting scheduled Dec. 4 in Jamestown for Western New York.
That has led some, including State Sen. Tim Kennedy, to question whether King still plans to bring his tour to the Buffalo area.
"I certainly appreciate you traveling to as many regions, and holding as many forums, as possible," Kennedy wrote in a letter to King that he also released publicly, "but it is imperative that you do not ignore the largest school district in Western New York in favor of an event that is about 70 miles -- or more than an hour-and-a-half drive -- away from Buffalo."
So is Amherst or another location in the Buffalo area still on the list for a Common Core forum?
"We will definitely be holding a forum in Erie County before the end of the year," state ed spokesman Jonathan Burman said this morning.
King came under criticism last month after he cancelled a series of community forums organized by the New York State PTA after encountering a raucous crowd at the first meeting in Poughkeepsie. Amherst was one of the locations included in the PTA series.
-- Denise Jewell Gee
November 19, 2013 - 10:31 AM
Educators and parents concerned about student privacy have been closely watching what types of information must be submitted to a new statewide data system known as EngageNY Portal.
School administrators talked of hundreds of fields that would have to be filled out for each student -- from attendance records to state test scores -- but determining exactly what information would be uploaded was a challenge.
An updated document posted by the New York State Department of Education sheds more light on the question.
November 18, 2013 - 7:00 AM
How confidential is information spammed out to thousands of people?
Not very. Which is why the decision by the Buffalo school district to censor many of board member Carl Paladino's resolutions Wednesday night is simply ridiculous.
At Wednesday night's meeting, half of Paladino's 10 board issues were redacted with black marker. Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said this was done because Paladino was referring to matters in litigation or were personnel issues that could only be reviewed and discussed in closed session.
We are quite disappointed in whoever wrongly advised the board president on this matter.
November 17, 2013 - 12:01 AM
Board member Carl Paladino's beef with Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold is well known. He routinely sends out mass emails criticizing her leadership and has repeatedly submitted motions calling for her removal as board president. The fact that no other member of the board sides with him in his endeavor to have the board leader removed has not deterred him.
His latest legal effort to unseat Nevergold, however, appears rather serious. It is his second petition to State Education Commissioner John King to have Nevergold removed from office and refers to a board policy that seems to indicate that Nevergold, an appointee, was required to run for election in May of this year but didn't.
November 15, 2013 - 9:54 AM
Here's a look at education coverage in The News today:
- The editorial board weighs in on discouraging reading and math scores by the nation's fourth- and eighth-graders. The board says the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows "an educational system badly in need of progress."
- A former elementary school in Little Valley could become a medical facility under a plan presented to the Cattaraugus County Legislature on Wednesday.
- My View contributor Carrie Carney writes that, despite advances in technology and social media, schools need to include courses on "daily fundamental life skills."