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Changes in the Buffalo school district's reading department

Some concerned reading teachers have recently written us about changes happening in the Buffalo school district’s Reading Department and asked if The News could look into it. They asked who’s in charge of the district’s reading program now that the current supervisor of reading has been reassigned as assistant principal of Lorraine Academy.

"There has been no directive from Dr. Brown as to who is in charge of elementary reading," said one teacher. "How can we no longer have a Department of Reading? Reading teachers and instructional coaches are all very confused."

According to district spokeswoman Elena Cala, who also consulted with Chief of Talent Management Darren Brown, the district's Reading Department has been restructured, but hasn't gone away. She said the district's supervisor of reading, Sharon McCormick, has been temporarily assigned as an assistant principal at Lorraine Academy but will not lose her old job. Her title has been changed from "supervisor" to "instructional specialist - reading" but she'll keep her same job responsibilities after her temporary assignment is completed, Cala said.

O'Malley announces bid for Ken-Ton School Board

By Joseph Popiolkowski

Jill O'Malley, director of the parent group Ken-Ton Parent Alliance and the donation site Ken-Ton Closet, announced today she is seeking a seat on the School Board this spring.

"My husband and I have discussed it and feel that this step is necessary to continue our efforts to advocate for the children of Ken-Ton," O'Malley said this afternoon in an email.

O'Malley is an outspoken opponent of the district's ongoing consolidation process, which may see schools close as the district faces shrinking enrollment. She is active in district affairs, often attending board meetings and sharing notes. The Ken-Ton Closet, based at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center, collects clothing and school supplies and distributes it to needy children in the district.

School Board elections will be held May 20. The seats currently held by Trustees Judy Frank and Jeff Rickan are up for grabs. They have not yet announced whether they will run for another term.

Live blog at 5:30 p.m.: Buffalo school board meeting

The Buffalo Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at West Hertel Academy, 489 Hertel Ave.

One of the agenda items deals with modifying a lease agreement with Middle Early College to continue the program in its current 290 Main St. location until the end of the school year. The lease at the building expired last December, but the board agreed to let the school stay where it is through this school year. The board voted at a controversial meeting in December to move Middle Early College into shared space with Math Science Technology Prep for the 2014-15 school year.

Here's a link to the upcoming agenda packet, which you can also find on the Buffalo Public Schools website.

Ken-Ton launches online survey for next superintendent

By Joseph Popiolkowski

The Ken-Ton School Board is asking for community input into the search for the district's next superintendent. Board President Bob Dana sent out an email this morning asking the public to complete a survey online. The Board meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the community room of the Philip Sheridan building, 3200 Elmwood Ave.

Here's Dana's email:

I believe everyone in the District is aware that we have officially begun our search for a new superintendent. We are moving quickly as it takes a great deal of time and our goal is to have a new superintendent in place by August 1st. On Tuesday, February 4th the Board of Education hired the Warner Center for Educational Reform out of the University of Rochester to assist us in this endeavor. One of the aspects that impressed us most about this firm is their strong commitment to involving District employees and the entire community in the process. Every effort is being made to include input from all stakeholder groups, not only to take part in the actual interviews, but right from the beginning as we identify the qualities desired most in our next superintendent.

We have officially posted the position and launched a page on our website to provide information, the application, and a survey to solicit your input. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey as your opinion is important to us. Just simply click on the link below to join us as we begin our search for Ken-Ton's next superintendent. We thank you in advance for your participation in this extremely important process. Thanks and continue having a GREAT day! Bob

Video: Furor over Common Core spurs changes

Fierce debate over Common Core is spurring some changes in the implementation of state learning standards. But The News' Denise Jewell Gee tells Brian Meyer some critics insist the changes don't go far enough:


Searchable database: Find and compare teacher salaries for districts in state

Sort our searchable database showing the 2012-13 median salaries for public school teachers in New York State. The database also lists the salaries for rookie teachers who earn less (5th percentile), as well as veteran teachers near the top of their income group (95th percentile).

Audio: Recording of call that went out to Harvey Austin School community

A message from Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela C. Brown:

Download audio

East Aurora teacher named to Cuomo's Common Core panel

An East Aurora teacher has been named to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Common Core Implementation Panel.

Educators have been closely watching who Cuomo would name to the panel with the hopes he would name classroom teachers and others with school experience to the group.

Cuomo, who last month called the state's implementation of the Common Core 'flawed,' wants the group to review the state's rollout of the new learning standards and make recommendations to improve their implementation.

His panel includes: 

  • Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs & President, IBM International Foundation (Chair)
  • Senator John Flanagan, Senate Education Committee Chair (Senate appointee)
  • Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Assembly Education Committee Chair (Assembly appointee)
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education
  • Todd Hathaway, Teacher, East Aurora High School (Erie County)
  • Alice Jackson-Jolley, Parent (Westchester County)
  • Anne Kress, President, Monroe Community College
  • Nick Lawrence, Teacher, East Bronx Academy for the Future (NYC)
  • Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President of Programs, National Council of La Raza
  • Charles Russo, Superintendent, East Moriches UFSD (Long Island)
  • Dan Weisberg, EVP & General Counsel, The New Teacher Project

Read the governor's news release announcing the panel here:

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Colleges, careers and scholarships

Need help preparing or finalizing plans for college or a career?

Help is here.

Say Yes is currently accepting scholarship applications for 2014 and Buffalo Public Schools is holding its 6th annual college and career fair.

The College, Career & Scholarship Expo will be held tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bennett High School, 2885 Main St.

This year's expo is open to 8th through 12th grade students, and the theme is "Passport to My Success."

During her weekly press briefing this past Thursday, Superintendent Pamela Brown outlined 10 reasons why kids and their parents should attend the workshop.

Video: Police spokesman after search of school was completed

Buffalo Police Department spokesman Mike DeGeorge addressed the media after a search of Harvey Austin School was completed:

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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]