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Changes coming for Buffalo charter schools

WBFO File Photo

Even with Community Charter School forced to close and at least one other charter in trouble, Buffalo potentially has two more coming on line next year.

The school board held public hearings for Reach Academy Charter School and Charter School of Inquiry last week. Both expect to be located on the East Side, with sites not set since neither yet has a charter from Albany. Both plan on longer school days and longer school years.

Leaders of the schools say they have learned from the past. Helene Kramer for Inquiry is a a former Buffalo school board president; Linda Marszalek at Reach had a long career in regular public schools and charter schools.

"Each teacher in a grade would decide what to teach and then they would develop a test for those students," Marszalek explained.

"So, it was possible for a student in one class to actually have learned more and mastered the material better and still be recognized as a struggling student while another student in a different class maybe not have learned as much may be considered average."

Marszalek says Reach expects to recruit handicapped students.

Inquiry Community Engagement Chair Melodie Baker says their goal is teaching kids to think in a wide curriculum.

"We're certainly infusing the African-American history. Common Core is going to be throughout all of our curriculum. We are doing tons of new things," Baker said.

"It's the Charter School of Inquiry so it's an inquiry-based studying practices. We will use the world around us as the children's laboratory."

Ultimately, Albany must approve either school opening with each requesting a five-year charter.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.