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Background of Yamilette Williams and Faith Alexander

The high-level Buffalo Public Schools administators who lack state certifications to hold their jobs have been described by Superintendent Pamela Brown as the "best qualified" candidates for their positions. It now appears their employment contracts with the district are "null and void." As first reported by The News on Wednesday, both women came from out of state and worked as educational consultants prior to coming to Buffalo in July and August of last year.

Although we have copies of their resumes, they are unfortunately scribbled-over copies that would be inappropriate to post. (If anyone could send us clean copies, we would be very appreciative.) Repeated requests for resume copies from the school district have gone unanswered.

So, thanks to a bit of very quick typing, below a very condensed rundown of Yamilette Williams' and Faith Alexander's curriculum vitaes. Their actual resumes are much more detailed. If we ever get them, we'll post them.

UPDATED: Buffalo school urges parents not to transfer out their child

UPDATE: The Buffalo school district's chief of student support responded to this post. Scroll down for comments from Will Keresztes.

Since there are only a dozen schools in good standing in Buffalo, out of 56, these transfer requests not only pose huge headaches for the district but alarm principals in struggling schools who fear the drain in their school's enrollment.

One such school is International School 45, a Hoyt Street elementary school that serves many immigrant children. In a one-page letter recently sent home to parents, Acting Principal Lynn Piccirillo touted the school's positives and ended by stating, "I AM ASKING THAT YOU NOT TRANSFER YOUR CHILD FROM OUR SCHOOL."

Live blog: Buffalo School Board meeting

The Buffalo schools have been bustling with news in the past few weeks, with critics jumping to weigh in on the controversial hiring of Mary Guinn and new plans to turn around some of the district's most struggling programs.

All of those issues are likely to come up at this week's school board meeting during which board members will be asked to sign off on plans for Bennett High School, Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute and Harvey Austin School. Board member Carl Paladino has also called for the board to suspend several administrators who lack the appropriate credentials for district leadership positions.

Follow along all the action right here at the School Zone where we will live blog the conversation. The fun starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Woes at Bennett High School

What to do with Bennett High School?

That is the question Buffalo Public School officials have been grappling with for awhile.

My story in today's paper points out some of the issues there and what school district officials are doing to address them.

Bennett is deemed a "priority" school by the State Education Department, meaning students there have failed for years to meet state learning standards. The graduation rate is well below 50 percent. More than 40 percent drop out. And fewer than 60 percent of Bennett seniors pass standardized math and science exams in 2012.

What's happening now seems to be a clash between teachers there and Principal Terry Ross, who was brought in from the outside last year to lead a turnaround at the school.

What's more, during a site visit last October, reviewers from the State Education Department tagged both the leadership and teaching practices at the beleaguered school.

Here's a link to the report: Bennett report. Click here to view a copy of Ross' resume. 

Download Terry ross resume


--Deidre Williams


The great debate: When should a school district notify you about a snow day? Take our poll!

This morning, the water cooler talk among parents was about what time their child's school district sent a robocall to their house informing them that schools would be closed because of the blizzard-like conditions.

Many suburban parents got the call late last night, some close midnight. Other parents, like those in Buffalo City Schools, got the robocall around 5:30 a.m. even though the school district had actually decided to close schools between 11 pm and midnight the night before.

Some suburban parents complained that they were irritated to get a call so late into the evening from their school districts. While some city parents were irritated that the Buffalo school district waited to inform parents until early the next morning.

In an ideal world, everyone would get the call at a more reasonable hour, say 8 p.m. or so. But that doesn't typically happen because no school district wants to be ridiculed for closing schools over doom-and-gloom forecasts that prove to be totally wrong.

So, assuming you're going to be inconvenienced one way or another, which would you prefer? Take our poll and let us know!

Overhaul or closure of MLK and Bennett result from scathing state reports

Buffalo school district leaders have been aware for some time that Martin Luther King School and Bennett High School have been in the cross hairs of the State Education Department because of poor academic performance and negative findings by members of a state review team that visited the schools in October.

The district requested proposals to "relaunch" these schools in the fall, but all proposals were rejected by school faculty, resulting in the latest state intervention. As a result, as noted in today's story, the state is now requiring that these schools either be closed or that new schools be phased in. 

Public hearing tonight on charter school's expansion plans

By Joseph Popiolkowski

The Ken-Ton School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the community room of the Philip Sheridan building, 3200 Elmwood Ave. A public hearing on expansion plans by the Charter School for Applied Technologies to increase its maximum enrollment from 1,675 to 2,365 and add a school building will begin the meeting.

Read our Feb. 7 story "Charter School for Applied Technologies wants to expand" and the notice of proposed charter revision.

How many students has your school district lost?

All but four school districts in Erie and Niagara counties have seen enrollment drop since 1994-95. Find out how enrollment in your school district changed between 1994-95 and 2012-13.

A story in Sunday's edition detailed how enrollment changes are shaping the decisions schools are making about the future. Read the story here.

Online Database by Caspio
Click here to load this Caspio Online Database.

The information includes total enrollment figures for each school district for kindergarten through 12th grade, but does not include pre-kindergarten or charter schools. 

Source: New York State Department of Education. Access the data here.

Live blog at 5 p.m.: Buffalo School Board Committee Meetings

This week's Buffalo school board meeting will be for the educational support and student achievement committees.

The meetings come a week after Superintendent Pamela C. Brown's appointment of Mary E. Guinn as her deputy superintendent. If Guinn makes an appearance, it could lend to some interesting exchanges among school board members, who were divided on whether to approve her appointment.

The meetings start at 5 p.m. and we will be covering them live here.

A quick breakdown of BPS students enrolling in college

As noted in today's story, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown is announcing today that 66 percent of the graduating Class of 2013 enrolled in college this past fall, the highest percentage of students attending college in at least seven years.

Below is a version of her presentation, which is being shared with the Say Yes Buffalo Community Leadership Council this morning. Note that the four-year graduation rate shown in the first chart represents the preliminary graduation rate for August 2013. The on-time (June) preliminary graduation rate is 54 percent.

(Check back here later for a live blog of tonight's School Board committee meetings starting at 5:30 pm.)

-- Sandra Tan

2013 BPS College Enrollment Data

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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]