After initial turnaround plans to receive School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding were denied by the New York State Education Department, The Buffalo Public School District has been given until August 31st to submit improvement plans or SURR plans for 7 of its persistently lowest achieving schools.
Although the district has until January 1 to submit plans to be considered for state funding, the district MUST submit to the state a school improvement plan by August 31st, regardless of the financial incentive. It is expected that the SURR plans will identify ways that the district will make a stronger application for the School Improvement Grant.
The district and its administration have gravely mishandled the turnaround process for failing schools, switching their proposed plans to the Educational Partner Organization model at the last minute, making for the submission of incomplete and ineffective plans.
Students at these 7 persistently low achieving schools will be faced with a subpar education for another year, rather than benefit from the improved programs and additional funding that could have been implemented in the upcoming school year had the turnaround plans been sound and submitted on time.
Commissioner John King has expressed disappointment with the failings of the adults in the district to provide a plan to improve our worst schools. These failings are made evident in the case of Lafayette High School, for which the district received a 300,000 year long planning grant, and still did not present adequate turnaround plans.
The district is responsible for delivering the educational programs that were designed by the state or the federal government, yet it blames the state only when those programs fail to work, while simultaneously accepting the majority of its budget from State funding. With less than a month until the start of the new year, the district can no longer delay the turnaround process, and the State can longer push back deadlines. Adults continue to let outside interests dominate, leaving parents and students hanging in the balance.
There is an immediate need for strong leadership, unity, and direct action to effectively implement federal turnaround models. Every student can learn, every school can be improved, and Buffalo can be a high performing district.