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Back to school in Buffalo: Principal at persistent struggling school optimistic

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo public school children return for a new school year Thursday. Some parents are optimistic for change as a new district leader kicks off the return to the classrooms. Superintendent Kriner Cash is starting off the new school year at Burgard Vocational High School.


"Some of us have been here all summer preparing for opening day. So we are excited about the possibilities," said Burgard Principal Charlene Watson.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Charlene Watson, Principal at Burgard.

Watson admits it has been difficult to be considered one of city's low-performing schools. Watson tells WBFO News she had a meeting earlier this week with Cash.

"What he said is that is that we need to 'turboboost Burgard into the 21st century' and by that he meant we need to make available to our young people all of the technology that we have access to, all of the educational enrichment opportunities available for our students so they are prepared to graduate from high school," explained Watson.


Burgard is on the list of 25 schools now in receivership. It is also one of the city's five persistently struggling schools. That means the power is in the hands of Cash to turn around the school in one year or an independent receiver would be named.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Koteras Elibol l WNED Art Director l Photographer
Dr. Kriner Cash, Buffalo Schools Superintendent.

"There are about 16 areas that the receiver has enhanced authority that he or she wouldn't ordinarily have given the conditions of a contract agreement," stated Cash during a WBFO interview.

School principals 

Cash has stated that he is conducting a full review of all school principals. But Watson says she is confident in her work at Burgard. 

"I have a great team here at Burgard High School. We have the best teachers over here that work hard every day, many of them stay after school every day to provide our students with extra support," noted Watson.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Burgard Vocational School in Buffalo.

Watson said she is hoping to add more teachers to create smaller class sizes at Burgard. The school is also in line for more funding for technology to give ninth graders daily access to computers and seniors will have the chance to participate in a "credit recovery program" allowing them to graduate on time.