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Charters could move into city school buildings

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The push for charter schools operating in Buffalo school buildings went full force Tuesday. The city school board voted to put charter supporters on panels evaluating proposals from others who want to run schools in buildings that Albany wants closed because of academic failure. There are four schools, East, Lafayette, Bennett and Martin Luther King, which the state says have used up all of their chances and dollars to turn around academically. Now, they will have to be closed and reopened under a new plan with most teachers pushed out.

Lafayette teachers and administrators are proposing a plan to both take advantage of the languages of the heavily immigrant population and to create a new way to bring their English up to standard. By December 12, all proposals for reopening the buildings have to be submitted.

Charter proponents Carl Paladino and Larry Quinn increased the size of the panels reviewing the proposals from eight to 12, adding four charter supporters.

"Union people are opposed to charter schools. We want to open up the solicitation to everybody. Give these kids a fair chance. We want to listen to everybody and what they've got to say. The way to do that is put balance on this evaluation group by having non-union members on the board or on the panel," said Paladino.

The resolution doesn't say charter, it says non-traditional public schools. That could include people from Catholic schools. A separate set of proposals which will be considered would allow for a charter in any of the four buildings, either taking over completely or sharing, also called co-locating, with a regular public school.

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.