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Buffalo Public Schools declaring turnaround victory

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Public School District is declaring victory in turning around past failing and struggling city schools. Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said city schools have been turned around.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley attended a celebration with the school community Thursday at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.

“The Buffalo Public Schools is turnaround – it’s turnaround!” Kriner Cash,  city schoools superintendent.

A very enthusiastic superintendent Kriner Cash proudly announcing before a packed out house that the once failing district has turnaround.

There are now 37-of 50 schools in good standing, have more than doubled since 2015. And now only two-schools remain in state receivership from the original 25 three years ago. 


“No longer a failing district – it’s a thriving district. It’s a thriving district!” stated Cash.  

The district attributes the Education Bargain with students and parents and turnaround plans for making a difference. 

The district's four-year graduation rate has also climbed to 64.5 percent at 14 of the city's 17-high schools.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Large crowd of the city's school community gathered at BAVPA School Thursday.

Among dignitaries attending was Regent Catherine Collins.

“I have one word to say and that is halleluiah," said Collins. 

But while declaring victory, city school board member Sharon Belton-Cottman is urging more parents to engage in their child’s education. She would like to see 1,000 parents become engaged.

“If we can get our parents piece together, we can move this district off the charts,” Belton-Cottman said. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Inside a Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts Thursday, students were hard at work in an English class.

“The Board of Education and I applaud the extraordinary work of our students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff, alumni, and our many, many strategic partners as we continue our trajectory toward becoming the best, highest performing, most equitable, whole child centered urban school district in the nation!” exclaimed Superintendent Cash.

After the ceremony Cash talked with reporters, saying his goal was getting the district out of being a “failing district” since he arrived in 2015. He admits there is more to do.

Cash was also asked how long he plans to remain as city superintendent.

“But I think that the first order of business for the new school board ought to be to either offer an extension or to upgrade and go out and get someone better, because this work has to continue and sometimes it gets scuttled – if you get some new people in who aren’t focused on the way we’ve been focused to get results,” Cash replied. 

Asked if he wants to continue, Cash responded “I would continue if my health upholds and I stay mature, like my wife says, and don’t get down into adult issues and stay on kid issues for another three years.”

Here is what the district has outlined for the successes: 

  • The 4-year graduation rate climbed to 64.5% for 14 BPS high schools, with half (7) at graduation rates above the state average of 80%.  Our 5-year graduation rate is 67.5%, and our 6-year graduation rate is 68.3%.
  • The number of Schools in Good Standing have more than doubled from 14 (27%) to 37 (74%) since 2015.
  • Receivership Schools have been reduced from the original 25 in 2015, to only two.

The Education Bargain, adopted by the Buffalo Board of Education in 2016, states that the District will guarantee pathways to opportunity that will lead to achievement and success in exchange for hard work, commitment, and collaboration of our students and parents. We believe that an equal and high-quality education is every child’s civil right; and, as educators we must deliver on this essential democratic principle.  The Education Bargain includes:
·       Rigorous Early Elementary Education

·       Strong Community Schools

·       New Innovative High Schools

·       Extended Learning Excellence For All Our Students

·       Services For Our Neediest Children And Families

·       A New Relationship With Our Teachers  

But this announcement comes in the midst of controversy swirling around a student-teacher incident at McKinley High School.  It involved a student allegedly attacking a teacher, but the teacher has also been placed on leave. The Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) has lashed out against the district claiming behavioral trouble at the school and points the finger at the principal.

But at Wednesday night’s Buffalo School board meeting the district issued a statement.

District Statement in response to BTF memo 1-16-19:

"Pernicious BTF statements that so egregiously distort and mischaracterize what is occurring at one of our finest high schools are insulting to the students, the teachers, the staff, and the administration of McKinley HS.

Administratively, all matters were handled procedurally correct as in any other high school across the city.

We are not at liberty to discuss the specifics of any personnel cases.

So-called “vote of no confidence” surveys are a bogus and bullying tactic that are always deeply flawed and unverifiable.

The District is steadfastly focused on increasing equity and student achievement for all of our students in all of our schools. We hold all staff accountable, and we expect staff to model a strong growth mindset and high expectations for all of our students." 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash refused to take any questions about McKinley High School Thursday.

Superintendent Cash refused to take any questions from reporters regarding McKinkley and the BTF's claims at Thursday's announcement. 

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