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Receivership to begin for persistently struggling schools

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The State Education Commissioner is directing the implementation of school receivership to begin for struggling and persistently struggling.   Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has identified 20-persistently struggling schools in 17-districts across the state. WBFO'S Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says five of those schools are right here in Buffalo.

"The superintendent taking some more -- purposefully action to support those schools," stated Commissioner Elia. Elia appeared in Rochester Thursday discussing the receivership model for the struggling schools. 

Elia said city schools superintendents will serve as the receiver. This law gives the school receiver the authority to develop a new intervention plan for that persistently struggling school. 

"It could involve staffing, it could involve budget changes, it could involve refocus of the school. A change in a number of things at the school site to put it on better footing to support a strong foundation to move forward," said Elia.

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan tells WBFO News the law will allow Buffalo to put together a plan and hire someone from the district to lead the identified schools.

"The law works that there's an encouragement to bring someone in who has knowledge of the specific schools and that we have allow them to also contract with a non-profit organization that has expertise in education or a local college or university," said Ryan.

The Education Department said receivers will have one-year to use the enhanced authority of a receiver to make improvements.  Struggling Schools will be given two years under a "superintendent receiver".   "Those schools will have a special focus in their own districts, but certainly from the Department of Education as well," noted Elia.

Assemblyman Ryan said the receiver has new authority to develop a new intervention plan. "So this, in the right hands could be a very positive thing for the City of Buffalo, but in the wrong hands, and if you have a school board that is more focused on punishing then growing, it could be a problem, so this is a real wait and see," said Ryan.

In Buffalo the persistently struggling schools have been identified as South Park, Burgard, West Hertel Elementary, Buffalo Elementary School of Technology and Futures Academy.