Due to popular demand - or maybe education reporter geekiness at its very finest - the School Zone team has decided to start blogging from Buffalo school board committee meetings on a more regular basis.
Typically, we've kept our blogging to the regular meetings during which votes are cast and district policy set. These events tend to be pretty well followed, allowing us to give readers a unique window into the inner-workings of the school system (without having to suffer the uncomfortable chairs). They also give us a chance to interact with readers and answer questions.
Although regular board meetings are when official actions take place, I've always thought committee meetings are just as important, perhaps moreso. This is where ideas are first presented, conversations start and opinions fly. They are where much of the actual work developing policy and prorgams happen before they are voted on.
This week we're expecting a number of reports and updates on topics ranging from parent involvement to special education during back-to-back committee meetings.
So, join us Wednesday for four hours filled with all sorts of fun acronyms and Carl Paladino-isms.
The public will get its first look at the Ken-Ton School District's proposed 2014-15 budget tonight at 6:30 during a budget work session of the School Board in the auditorium of Kenmore East High School, 350 Fries Road.
The session is not only open to the public but allows two-way communication with the school board. Board President Bob Dana said comments and questions will be permitted on budget matters only. The board is also expected to vote on hiring a superintendent search firm to find a successor for Mark P. Mondanaro, who announced last month he is retiring this summer. Dana said he will allow comments on that issue
The board in a special meeting Saturday approved a resolution in support of eliminating of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a tool used to decrease state aid to school districts beginning in 2010 to fix a state budget deficit. Ken-Ton alone has lost $33 million in state aid since the GEA went into effect, according to the resolution.
Dana said copies of the resolution and the letters were sent to State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger and other School Board presidents in their districts asking for their support.
Today's story by Tiffany Lankes mentions five Buffalo public schools that were originally promised afterschool programs -- and had already started them -- only to find out that those programs aren't being offered any longer because of funding shortfalls.
These are the five schools affected:
Hutchinson Technical High School
Hillery Park Academy
Olmsted School 64
Discovery School 67
All five schools are schools in good standing with the state, schools the district has determined will be least hurt by the lack of after school programming.
Of the three profile stories I have written about the new power players in the Buffalo public school district, Carl Paladino's profile was toughest.
As noted in my blog post introducing the profile series -- when Supt. Pamela Brown's profile ran -- these profiles are meant to humanize important people most readers would otherwise never get to know. Supt. Brown's profile ran two Sundays ago. Paladino's was published today, and the profile on parent activist Sam Radford will run on a future Sunday.
When comparing the profiles of Brown and Paladino, it's truly remarkable how many similarities these two people share, even though their personalities and positions are so opposite. They both emerged from humble, working-class backgrounds. They both were devastated by the loss of their sons, and as a result, they were both transformed into more ambitious people -- the people they are today.
It's taken a few months, but my in-depth profile story (and accompanying blog post) on developer and Buffalo school board member Carl Paladino runs tomorrow.
For my other profile subjects, Superintendent Pamela Brown and parent activist Sam Radford, I asked for a copy of their resumes to post here on the School Zone blog. But since Carl runs his own multimillion-dollar development company, it's not like he keeps an updated resume to send out to future employers.
He does, however, have an official bio that his company sends out and that he regularly updates himself. For those who are curious, it's posted below.
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.
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.
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.
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.