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Charter school plan meets board opposition

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Mike Desmond/WBFO

A proposal to turn two of the city's most-academically-troubled schools into charter schools met strong opposition at last night's school board meeting.

A group of veteran charter school proponents has filed with the State Education Department to take over East High and Waterfront, dropping union contracts and adding longer school days and longer school years.

They expect to take over the buildings on which the Joint Schools Construction Board has spent tens of millions of dollars in renovations.

They didn't ask the school board for any approvals and that drew fire.
"I am an alumna of East High School. So that you understand something real clear, when I went to East High School we weren't even allowed to go to the game," said Board Member Sharon Belton Cottman.

"However, there is a biometric lab over there that I certainly intend to make sure that this district utilizes for the students inside this district and I am very concerned that anyone would be trying to get their hands on it."

Charter advocate Steven Polowitz says he expects the board to eventually give in and allow the charter conversions.

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.