© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Some details remain undecided, as Buffalo Schools present budget to city leaders today

Mike Desmond

Buffalo Public School leaders meet with the Common Council Thursday to talk about their proposed school budget for next year. Not all the details were set on that plan by Wednesday evening's School Board meeting.

Board members had a chance to hear about the latest version of the budget and start asking questions about the effect of the plan on the schools in their districts, or across the city for the at-large members. CFO Geoffrey Pritchard said it is a $916 million spending plan, balanced with $19 million from accumulated reserves.

The rapid pace of change in the district, like the new innovative high school program, leaves questions about spending when the schools are only a year or two old. Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said it is complicated.

"Our new innovative high schools are brand new. They don't have a full grade configuration and, they, some kids have one grade, some kids have two grades," said Cash. "They are in good standing, but it's a sort of a superfluous heading because they just started. So they actually have fewer students, but need that full counseling, that full AP."

Associate Superintendent for School Leadership Sabatino Cimato said spending is being shaved.
"Not just on the new innovative schools, but also in other schools throughout the district that we would still examine with Dr. Cash at the appropriate time," said Cimato. "But, right now, what they did was, they would take and they would cut, a cut may have been a point-two for math or a point-two from ELA instead of cutting an entire department."

Schools were asked for cuts and some district-wide operations, like central administration, were cut to reduce the anticipated deficit from around $35 million down to the $19 million to be made up from reserves. Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash says the plan is to retain those cuts next year as the district pushes to have an actual balanced budget, not one balanced with reserves.

In a challenge to Cash, Board Member Sharon Belton Cottman said she is going to try to accumulate enough board votes to block the closing and sale of School 187, the former Academy for Visual and Performing Arts on Clinton Street.

Much time was also spent Wednesday evening on other topics, like special education and libraries, but details are still be be decided. Belton Cottman said the much larger issue for her is troubled students in a lot of schools with weak test scores and limited resources.

"Where's all the resources?" she asked. "In addition to that, if you take who is coming into the building - which I have no understanding how students can make it to the ninth grade and only reading at a certain level - to me, I think that that's just pure negligence. Okay. But the majority of the students are not reading anywhere near sixth grade level.Okay. And we don't see resources. So where's the ownership of the data?"

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.
Related Content