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Six 'Priority Schools' in city granted SIG funds

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WBFO News file photo
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The New State Education Department has awarded $95 million in School Improvement Grants to 39-Priority Schools statewide. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says six Buffalo Public Schools are included in these federal grants to support academic outcomes for students.   

The SIG grants would provided $2.5 million  to six city schools over the next five years.  

"We were excited. It was a collaborative effort between the district and the schools developing plans under Dr. Cash's new Education Bargain," said Danielle Schwanekamp, Project Administrator for Grant Development for the city school district. 

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Danielle Schwanekamp, Project Administrator for Grant Development

Each school is being redesigned to become successful and be in 'good standing'. 

Tino Cimato is Associate Superintendent for School Leadership.  

"We took the same type of look at designing these programs as we did for the five innovative high schools that are already opening in September," Cimato noted. 

The plans for each of the six Priority schools is based on that school's individual needs.  For example, at the Alternative School, it would Phase in Career & Technical Education.  At  Riverside High School, the grant would be for a "Turnaround Model" with 'Phase Out' of CTE- learning and instead the creation of a program to train students about the 'Blue Economy'.and Health & Wellness. 

"Everything from the design and Renaissance and the renovation of our waterfront to that and beyond, so that is really what Riverside's focus is going to be," said Cimato.

The other schools awarded the SIG grants include the Community School of Excellence,  Bennett Park Montessori,  Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction, Early Childhood Center and Academy Programs.

The state comptroller must review and approval the funding, but the city district said is confident the grant funding will ready this school year.  

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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District's Education Bargain.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash was not available for comment, but issued a written statement:  

“The grant award is fabulous news for our district and will provide much-needed resources as we continue to transform our schools in high need zip codes.  For example, #205 Riverside High and our Alternative Program #131were already on my radar screen to address this year, and these SIG7 funds will help to turbo-boost our efforts.  I would especially like to thank Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, and Assistant Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Atkinson for their tremendous support in this process.”

The following is the District's executive summary outlining how the grant dollars would be used at each of the schools:

#18 Dr. A. Pantoja

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) - Transformation Model

The plan consists of five goals focused on literacy, mathematics, systems and structures, data driven inquiry and culture and climate.  The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review.

Achievement in literacy is sought via the addition of three FTE reading support teachers to support grade bands in grades K-1, 2-3 and 4-5.  The school will continue implementing the District writing initiative, Step Up to Writing.   Pantoja #18 will seek to increase achievement in mathematics via student assessment, data review and informed instructional practices.  Strategies include the completion of a longitudinal Gap Analysis to determine school-wide and/or grade level focus standards and the implementation and monitoring of daily math fluency checks and sprints.  Both literacy and mathematics will be supported through the implementation of i-Ready Diagnostic and Instruction web-based site licenses to provide individual and targeted interventions to students via classroom, ELT and outside of the school day. The School Leadership Team will create a system to monitor and track the progress of school initiatives and their impact on student achievement via additional monthly meetings. The principal will participate in the PLC’s Leverage Leadership professional development to hone their leadership skills.  The formation of a Data Inquiry Team will establish a system for providing embedded professional development to staff in addition to collecting, organizing, analyzing and summarizing student data to share with all stakeholders including students.  Finally, Pantoja #18 is participating in Cohort 2 of the School Climate Turnaround Grant’s intensive professional development on multi-tiered student supports (MTSS-B) with intent of decreasing Office Discipline Referrals (ODR’s) by 15% and increasing student attendance to 95% in three years via a .25 FTE attendance teacher.  The school administration will actively recruit multiple parent facilitators to divide and conquer parent needs and requests. The expected outcomes will include an increase in reading and mathematics scores and full implementation of the DDI process.

#32 Bennett Park Montessori

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) – Transformation Model

The goals of this plan focus on an increase in ELA and mathematics achievement through a rigorous and tiered, differentiated instructional program and creation of a sustainable DDI culture with concrete systems that will support instruction and increase student academic achievement. The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review.

The model selected for School 32 is Transformation Model. The School Improvement Grant application was written to compliment the Socio-Economic grant that they were recently awarded. The focus of the Socio-Economic grant is to provide in-depth training and retain Montessori trained teachers. They will partner with Cadwell Collaborative, the only full service Reggio Emilia provider in the country, who has already served as a successful partner at Bilingual Center #33.   They boast an expertise in providing instructional coaching, curriculum mapping, and professional development training in implementing the Reggio Emilia approach. This philosophy is project-based learning with a connection to the natural environment.  SIG will fund a full time Assistant Principal and reading teacher; the art and Italian teacher will be made whole. The expected outcomes will include an increase in student achievement through targeted professional development with an emphasis on student engagement and utilization of the DDI process.   

#61 Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction School 61

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) – Early Learning Intervention Model

The plan consists of five goals focused on an increase in ELA and mathematics achievement based on a rigorous and tiered differentiated instruction, create a school structures and systems to support instruction and maximize time on task, increase the use of data to drive instruction,  and engaging families as partners in their child’s learning.  The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review. 

The model selected for School 61 is Early Learning Intervention Model. The School Improvement Grant application was written to compliment the Socio-Economic grant that they were recently awarded. The focus of the Socio-Economic grant is to integrate the arts and they will partner with Cadwell Collaborative, who has already served as a successful partner at Bilingual Center #33, the only full service Reggio Emilia provider in the country.   They boast an expertise in providing instructional coaching, curriculum mapping, and professional development training in implementing the Reggio Emilia approach.  This philosophy is project-based learning with a connection to the natural environment.  SIG will fund a full time building mathematics and reading teacher; the social worker, art and music teacher will be made whole. The expected outcomes will include an increase in student achievement and improved teacher practices for student engagement.

PS #82 ECC

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) – Early Learning Intervention Model

The selected SIG model, the Early Learning Intervention Model, consists of three goals; focusing upon the goals of quality and rigorous instruction, embedded professional development, and identifying and providing specific academic interventions. At ECC #82 teachers will modify curriculum plans through backwards planning, to meet the needs of the students and provide differentiated instruction. Teachers will deepen their knowledge of the curriculum and collaborate by designing curriculum maps specific to grade levels. The adaptation of curricular materials will establish a school-wide practice and approach to interdisciplinary planning in vertical and horizontal grade-level meetings, and interdisciplinary instruction. It is the goal of ECC #82 to ensure that all students have access to curriculum that is adapted to remediate and to accelerate learning.   The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review.

The goals of the early intervention model will create school structures and systems that support instruction and maximize cognitive student engagement. The focus includes increased student achievement in ELA through the use of research-based instructional strategies, increased student achievement in mathematics through the use of a CCLS aligned, computer-based online diagnostic, screening, and individualized practice system, partnering with REACH, LLC. to provide coaching for school administrators and teacher leaders to ensure a successful school change process, and phasing in technology through a 1:1 iPad initiative to incorporate the technological skills across all content areas. The SIG will fund an instructional coach and an Instructional Technology Coach. The use of a computer-based diagnostic, screening, and assessment system could assist in this endeavor. The online system should accurately align the results of the student to the appropriately aligned prescriptive intervention activities to close the achievement gap. Additionally, this online system would also provide parents with the scaffolding needed to continue the prescribed intervention at home. The expected outcomes will include increasing student achievement through rigorous instruction and targeted professional development.

PS #131 The Academy School

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) - Transformation Model

Under this SIG, the Academy schools will consist of the following: The Academy School enrolling students in grades 7 – 12 who have not been successful in the traditional educational setting; Pathways Academy, a program that addresses the needs of students who are over-aged and under-credited; and Virtual Academy, a credit-recovery program which will be offered in four schools. 

The plan consists of the following goals: focus on closing the gap in ELA and mathematics performance in grades 7-12, fully implement the DDI process to ensure we meet students at their current level and provide appropriate interventions as needed, creating a culture of evidence-based, results-oriented practice, and creating multiple pathways to success, including three paths through CTE (Building Restoration, Computer Service and Repair, and Healthcare Cosmetology), plus a virtual pathway at four locations throughout the city.  The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review.  The SIG is funding an instructional coach who will support the improvement of teacher practice in all three academies.  Additionally, the schools will have a sharp focus on the social-emotional aspects of all students.  The District has provided additional supports such as a full time attendance teacher and two full time social workers.  The expected outcomes will include increased opportunities for graduation via the three pathways offered, as well as increased attendance through not only the support of the attendance teacher, but also through increased interest via new programming, such as the Virtual options and the CTE programs.

#200 Bennett High School

$200,000.00/year for 1 Years (2016-2015) – Closure Model

The purpose of the School Improvement Grant is to provide additional support to Bennett HS during their final year of Phase Out.   Bennett’s priority is to graduate all 77 students assigned to the 2013 Cohort on time through a series of student supports that address academics, attendance and behavior.  Supports include a 1FTE Special Education teacher who can assist all students with all content areas via push-in, pull out, small group or individual instruction.  A .5 FTE attendance teacher will make the current position whole.  Their main responsibility will be to track current attendance, locate and reassign students assigned to Bennett, but not attending the school.   A .5 FTE Guidance Counselor to support the services discontinued by Say Yes for Education with respect to college & military applications, mentoring, scholarships, FASFA completion, NCAA Clearinghouse, etc. Finally, an afterschool credit accrual program funded in part with the Community Schools’ Project will be offered to assist the approximately 20 students in need of 10 or more credits to graduate with their Cohort.  Bennett’s plan includes weekly Leadership meetings to review the standing of each student with respect to academics, attendance and behavior to identify and resolve any issues that may cause a detour to graduation.  The expected outcomes are that all students currently assigned and attending Bennett High School will graduate; those assigned and not attending will be located and counseled regarding appropriate placement.

PS #205 Riverside High School

$500,000.00/year for 5 Years (2016-2021) - Turnaround Model

The purpose of this School Improvement Grant is to implement school transformation through a phase in phase out Turnaround model. The primary goal for the phase out school is to focus on increasing student achievement in ELA and mathematics through targeted and focused professional development to improve teacher practice.  The goals of the phase in school is to focus on meeting the needs of their English Language Learner population, ensuring that their cultural and linguistic backgrounds are valued as assets and prepare them to be successful in college and their chosen careers.  The phase in school will offer CTE courses based off the new “Blue Economy” whose three fundamental components include sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and recreation and coastal restoration.  The school arrived at these goals through careful analysis of school data and recommendations from the DTSDE review.

The school will seek to work with a collegiate partner to provide professional development for the teachers to increase their knowledge and instructional skills addressing the specific needs of English Language Learners.  They will be adding a Data/Curriculum Instructional Coach and a Coordinator to facilitate the phase in – phase out plan.  The expected outcome for the phase out school is to provide appropriate scaffolded instruction to ensure all students graduate.  The expected outcomes for the phase in school is to open a school that meets the needs of English Language Learners and provides multiple pathways to graduation, specifically through the aforementioned CTE programs.