The Buffalo Public School District is launching a city-wide campaign for Stronger Community Schools. More than 100,000 flyers will be mailed to city residents outlining community school locations and ways citizens can participate.
Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash appeared at one of the newly transformed schools, East Community High School, Friday morning. Cash appeared with school leaders, community stakeholders and lawmakers, explaining how the community schools initiative is helping students and families.
But Cash continues to urge parents and students to remain engaged so the district can improve its schools.
“When I see my young brothers and sisters going home or coming to school with no books, no backpacks – I tell Fred – stop the car – stop the car – and I get out and say where are you going son? I’m going to school. I said but you’re not ready to go to school. Where are your books? Pull up your pants. Look me in the eye,” Cash explained.
The Stronger Community Schools initiative is transforming 13-city schools into community schools. The schools are staying opening at night and providing events and programs on Saturdays for students and families. Four of the schools provide a Parent Center.
There are now adult and community opportunities for education and family supports, including health centers and clinics, legal clinics, after school and Saturday programs and strong academic opportunities.
Zumba, field trips, basketball, soccer leagues, plays, SAT prep, build your own computer, engineering for kids, health cooking classes, swimming programs, rolling skating in the gym -- these are among the many new programs making up community schools in the city.
The initiative is part of the superintendents New Education Bargain with students and parents.
“And we can’t get anywhere, even if you have the best plan and the best resources if you don’t trust one another, and the New Education Bargain in my mind is all about trust,” stated Cash.
Buffalo Teacher Federation President Phil Rumore joined Cash. He said more resources are needed to keep the program a success.
“This is like a seed. Community school are a seed that needs nurturing and it need the rest of the community to be developed, and I’m hereby calling upon the mayor and the common council to work with us, to nutritious this seed because we need to build up the communities around the community schools – we can’t do it alone,” declared Rumore.
The Superintendent and teachers union leader are calling on the city to provide more funding to help the district.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown appeared a half-hour into Friday’s news briefing and immediately spoke about strengthening city schools.
“The superintendent and I, just today – this morning – had a meeting to talk about how we can bring resources more in alignment to support these initiatives and programs for our children. We have a strong commitment to make sure that happens, to make sure our children succeed.
East High School was one of the city’s failing schools, but now the turn-around is underway.
Darryl King, principal of East Community School, explained how new partnerships and programs are enhancing the school.
“Here at East Community we have put together partnerships with Buffalo Police, Buffalo Fire Department. We have a partnership with Delaware North Company where we are engaging in cyber security,” remarked King.
New York State Senator Tim Kennedy and State Assembly woman Crystal Peoples-Stokes also joined school leaders at East Community Friday.
Kennedy said the city’s community school model is working and attracting attention.
“The graduation rates are climbing. We are seeing positive feedback. We are seeing a turnaround in the Buffalo Public Schools that quite frankly is the envy of public schools across the state and across the nation,” said Kennedy.
Peoples-Stokes, a former Buffalo Public school student, said it’s important to change the culture so everyone values education.
“It’s just that simple. We’re not going to fix the homicide problems if we don’t get there – where not going to fix the community structural problems if we don’t get there. And the best place, in my, for us to get there – is in school,” said Peoples-Stokes.