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Buffalo's Enterprise, Westminster charter schools to close

Westminster Community Charter School
Students can choose to stay in the Westminster Community Charter School building, but the future of Enterprise Charter School's location is yet to be decided.

The Buffalo School Board Wednesday evening pulled the plug on two academically troubled charter schools. The board said Westminster Community and Enterprise charters had failed to be better than the regular public schools and will close.The School Board has the power to close the two schools because it had issued the charters initially -- something rare in the charter world. More often, charters come from Albany.

The closures impact nearly 1,000 students. Those who want can remain in the Westminster building, but the future of Enterprise’s location is yet to be decided.

Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman said the two schools had long underperformed.

"Charter schools are supposed to outperform regular public schools and be more innovative. These two particular schools have decades of underperformance in those two areas," she said. "The special ed, students with special needs, the students that have English as a second language, we are not seeing the support that we should be seeing from charter schools. So it is being made clear at this point that if you are going to be in Buffalo, you are going to produce and you are going to perform at a greater level, a higher level than the public schools."

Since these aren’t the first charters to close, the district has staff and procedures ready to work with families on what they want to do next, hoping to retain them in the regular public schools. The staff and teachers are represented by district unions.

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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