BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – M&T Bank and the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Program are cutting ties with Bennett High School after the district put out a call announcing they are looking for a new partner.
Buffalo Promise Neighborhood had spent $2 million at Bennett for programs that included tutoring students after school, job preparation, and wrap-around services for families facing obstacles. Now those programs could disappear.
Cynthia Collins, the Parent Facilitator at Bennett, said the pulling of the programs will mean “children will have a more difficult time passing.”
The Buffalo School District had an agreement with the Promise Neighborhood program, but suddenly, and without notice, the district put out a request for a different program and a different partner.
“It was the utmost disrespect when they went and put out an RFP (request for proposals) to find a new partner,” said Sam Radford, District Parent Coordinating Council President. “M&T was already there partnering with them and had already made over a $2 million investment.”
In a letter to Buffalo School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood stated, “Considering the district’s desire to work with a different partner…we have concluded that further involvement at Bennett would not be the best use of resources.”
New York State Regent Robert Bennett said, “The agreement with the district was not kept by the district, as we all know now, and that’s extremely disappointing because the Promise Neighborhood holds a lot of promise.”
The state could close Bennett High School if the district doesn’t present a plan for the failing school by September 1.
But Superintendent Brown has made no public mention of even attempting to bring M&T Bank and the Promise Program back to Bennett.
Responding to M&T cutting ties, she said, “We will continue to rely on Bennett High guidance personnel and will strategically structure our community relationships within the school in order to carry out the services our College Success Center provides to our students.”
The state had poured millions of dollars of grant money into the school with little results. On Thursday, the district announce there will be no ninth grade students admitted for the next school year.
Bennett could be phased out if the state does not approve a new plan for the school.
In discussing the loss of the Promise and M&T partnership for Bennett, Bennett said, “They have an early childhood center, they have Westminster, they have Highgate…and you’re not going to find a more generous or a more committed corporate partner.”
Bennett was to be the third school in the Promise Neighborhood initiative, which included Highgate Heights Elementary and the Westminster Community Charter School.