School Board passes transfer plan 6-3

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When the graduation rate of some Buffalo Public Schools slipped below 50 percent, many parents decided to request transfers for their children.

But the district has decided they can only accommodate 300 to 500 students who requested a transfer, and not all of the 2,219 requests that were made. The school board voted 6-3 to approve that plan on Monday, but it could still be rejected by the State Education Department.

The plan has been revised twice, but still only allows around 20 percent of students who requested transfers to switch schools. Associate Superintendent Dr. Will Keresztes says the district knows there will be disappointed parents.

“We can’t do it all at once,” he explained. “I can assure the public we have a plan that will get us much closer there over the next couple of years.”

The Deputy State Education Commissioner has already warned the Buffalo School District of deficiences in their revised student transfer plans, including not having enough urgency in engaging suburban districts and charter schools to absorb some of the transfer students.

Board member Carl Paladino said, “At this point, I don’t believe there has been a sincere effort made to go out to the suburban districts to determine what availability there may be in those districts.”

“I think there’s been a superintendent or two that’s expressed a willingness to partner with us and we’re going to connect them to the formal process we have,” responded Dr. Keresztes.

Officials in the State Education Department say they have given the Buffalo School District further direction and more advice than any other district in the state. However, some board members still complain that the guidelines from the state are constantly changing.

“The directions we get from [State Education Department] keep changing, day by day and hour by hour,” said board member Florence Johnson.

The board then voted to pass the transfer plan, 6-3. But there is a chance the plan will not pass the State Education Department, especially given the school district’s track record.

The board also voted Monday to approve two contracts to have John Hopkins University step in as superintendent of East and Lafayette High Schools. And at Highgate Heights, the Promise Neighborhood was approved to take over the school.

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