Buffalo school district faces $50M deficit

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown recently pledged that her office would become more transparent to cope with issues facing the district. She made a stunning financial announcement Thursday.

Brown said the district faces a $50 million budget deficit, at a time when state funding levels, she said, have not increased significantly. But the superintendent says for the first time budget decisions of individual schools will be made by management teams from those schools.  She also said that for the first time, funding will follow the students whose needs are the greatest in these schools.

Brown said, “Those students who need more, for example, our students who are struggling, who did not make grade level standards in previous years, our students with disabilities, our English language learners, those students receive more funding at the school level.”

District Parent Coordinating Council President Sam Radford said, “Up until this point the district has, in their opinion, done some consultation with parents, but we obviously   disagree with that, and we filed a complaint with the State Education Department saying that they have not had adequate parent consultation.  The State Education Department agreed with us and  held up $36 million until they do proper consultation.”

Radford says there has been no training of parents at those schools to deal with budget issues.  He says in order for their input to be meaningful, that has to happen.

To close the gap, Brown says all district departments are being asked to take a 10 percent cut in their budgets. Departments will need to decide what to do, whether it be not filling vacancies, letting some staff go, not ordering supplies, or not renewing outside contracts.

In addition, six buildings not currently being used in the district would be closed, and district-wide programs would be re-evaluated for their effectiveness.

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