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City Honors admission policies continue to raise questions

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Things heated up Tuesday as Buffalo Common Council members argued over the future of City Honors. The Masten District's Ulysees Wingo says the school's student population has to be more representative of the city's population and it isn't.

Wingo chairs the Council's Education Committee and plans to discuss the changing admissions practices at the city's highly rated school Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday he attacked admissions practices that allow students who live in the city but attend private, parochial or charter schools or home school to take the test for some of the openings: 154 this year. Wingo said 105 went to Buffalo Public Schools students.

Admissions rules were changed this year to require city residence and to give preference in case of a tie to district students. Former city school teacher Joe Golombek said he is not sure there should be tinkering with City Honors practices.

"I look at a school like City Honors that's one of the best schools, not just in the region but in the entire country. There's something that's being done right there and I just feel very, very uncomfortable saying that we should change the way a successful school in the City of Buffalo is operating," Golombek said. "And I would much rather see other schools in the City of Buffalo operating the way City Honors does."

Contradicting Wingo, the South District's Chris Scanlon said the families who send their kids to Catholic schools are not affluent, but they want their children to attend the declining numbers of Catholic schools while having the option to test into City Honors or Olmsted.

"I'm talking about people that live in the City of Buffalo, pay taxes in the City of Buffalo and by right should have an opportunity to go to that school just as much as anyone else," Scanlon said. "And, if we're taking offense to things, I take great offense to the fact of all these parents being called affluent. I grew up in a family of seven children. My parents were not affluent."

Scanlon said other families in South Buffalo now want their Catholic school students to have a shot at City Honors. Wingo said longtime city residents deserve to be admitted to City Honors and Olmsted.

"If a parent feels that Catholic education is right for them, then by all means go to your Catholic Schools and have fun saying your Catholic prayers," Wingo said. "But, at the end of the day, please just don't try to block the people who have been living in Buffalo this entire time at a chance to be admitted to these high-performing schools."

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.
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