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Buffalo State leader focusing on student success

Sep 28, 2012
Photo provided by Buffalo State College

Buffalo State President Aaron Podolefsky delivered his annual address Thursday outlining his goals for the 2012-13 academic year.  

Podolefsky, who is entering the third year of his presidency at Buffalo State, focused much of his address on the institution’s commitment to student success and a renewed investment in its academic mission by increasing the number of full-time faculty members.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Koteras Elibol l WNED Art Director l Photographer

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, the president of Say Yes to Education, spoke before a studio audience at Buffalo City Forum Tuesday evening.

The hour-long forum was broadcast live on WBFO and AM 970. It was moderated by station manager Jim Ranney. 

The program, which was recently introduced in Buffalo, offers the promise of free college tuition to city schools students who meet the requirements.

WBFO News photo

With National Bullying Prevention Month about ten days away, educators, law enforcement, mental health professionals and others took part in conference Wednesday on "Understanding and Addressing Cyberbullying."

WBFO and AM 970's Eileen Buckley moderated a panel discussion during the day-long event at the Millennium Hotel.

File photo

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Whelan today upheld an arbitrator's decision that the involuntary transfer of 54 teachers by the Buffalo Public School system was in violation of the district's contract with the Buffalo Teachers' Federation union.

The transfers were initially enacted as part of a turnaround plan which the school board deemed the only feasible way to improve student performances at three low-performing city schools: Futures Academy, Drew Science Magnet School, and Bilingual Center 33. 

WBFO News by Mike Desmond

Buffalo schools are struggling to find room for students seeking to transfer into the district's better-performing schools.  But there is the possibility of easing the shortage with the help of suburban schools.

Federal law allows children to transfer out of failing schools to schools which are meeting standards.

The problem in Buffalo is that there are few regular schools which are meeting goals for kids to transfer into and a lot of bad schools which parents would like their kids to transfer out of.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

As students returned to the classroom this week, a new rule is in place that will help prevent bullying.  WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley says the  newly enacted state-wide Dignity for All Students Act was signed July first.

"If we can support principals and teachers in creating the right environment will make not only a safer school  but more effective schools," said  State Education Commissioner John King.  King reacted to questions about the Dignity for All Students Act during a visit to Buffalo earlier this week. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Some local school students hosted a special guest on their first day back to the classroom.   State Education Commissioner John King traveled to Western New York Wednesday.  

King first visited Sweet Home High School in Amherst, then traveled to the Math, Science & Technology Preparatory School on East Delavan in Buffalo. 

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley says King toured the school and interacted with students.

Photo from Buffalo Public School District Website

Buffalo Public School students head back to the classrooms Wednesday for a brand new school year.  A new principal takes over at the Lorraine Academy School 72. 

WBFO & AM-970'S Eileen Buckley talked to Todd Miklas who was the former principal at the Frank A. Sedita School on the West Side.

WBFO News file photo

A new school year begins this week across New York with several new initiatives benefiting students.  WBFO and AM 970's Mark Scott talked with an official who represents local school boards about the changes.

For hundreds of Buffalo students attending the city's International School, Tuesday was the first day to get a hands-on feel for their school.

"The top five languages spoken here are Burmese, Karen, Arabic, Somali and Mai-Mai," said Principal Nadia Nashir.

Nashir is the children of Yemeni parents who came here 40 years ago unable to read or write English or Arabic, and unable to help their daughter with her homework. But the principal of a school where 37 languages are spoken says her parents made her show up every day, do her homework, and organize her life.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo Public Schools parents are being urged to make sure they send their children to school.  Calls were made from the United Way headquarters on Delaware Avenue Monday where a phone bank was set up. 

Peter Jankowski, a city school attendance teacher, was calling the homes of students with some of the highest absentee rates. 

Classes start September 5 in the Buffalo public schools and district officials are hoping for packed classrooms from day one.

Poor student attendance has been blamed for the district's failing graduation rate.

Starting today, volunteers will be using a phone bank in United Way headquarters on Delaware Avenue to call the homes of students with track records of not showing up.

They will also look to impress upon parents the importance of better attendance, including in kindergarten which is generally not well attended in Buffalo schools.  

Save the date for Say Yes to Education conversation

Aug 24, 2012
WBFO News file photo

Save the date for Tuesday, September 25, 2012 for the next Buffalo City Forum. 

Say Yes to Education President Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey will be leading a discussion about the program hosted by WBFO & AM 970’s Jim Ranney at the WNED studio.

The Say Yes to Education initiative is sending the nation’s urban youth to college.  Recently, Buffalo adopted the Say Yes to Buffalo campaign.  It promises eligible Buffalo Public and charter school student’s tuition to attend college and higher education.

Innovation Trail to feature “Dropout Nation”

Aug 24, 2012
WBFO News file photo

According to statistics, every nine seconds in the U.S. a student drops out of school.  It leads to lifelong difficulties. 

WBFO & AM 970 will be airing a special five-part series produced by The Innovation Trail about education and the dropout crisis. 

Listen for those special reports beginning the week of September 17.   

A new round of commitments to the "Say Yes Buffalo" education initiative was announced today.  Twenty private colleges are pledging to provide scholarship opportunities for the program. 

Say Yes will allow eligible Buffalo Public and Charter School students a chance to attend college tuition-free.

Among the colleges expanding scholarship opportunities is Medaille College in Buffalo.  Medaille is already involved with Syracuse's Say Yes to Education.  

Medaille's president Richard Jurasek says the effort is "extraordinary."

File photo

A bill that would make illegal immigrants in New York State eligible for financial aid is running in to some local opposition. 

The legislation introduced recently by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would apply to children of illegals who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years. 

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak says Albany has cut back on the Tuition Assistance Program in recent years. The Cheektowaga Democrat says if anything, funding should be restored to TAP  first.

Photo from Kenmore-Tonawanda School District Website

Hit by declining student numbers, the economy, and Albany cuts in aid, the Ken-Ton school district voted last night to close Thomas Jefferson Elementary School one year from now.

The school board met in a crowded community room of Hoover Elementary Tuesday. While there had been rumors that Jefferson was on the fiscal chopping block, it didn't become official until Monday when Superintendent Mark Mondanaro had a meeting with parents to deliver the news.

With fewer students and less money from Albany, school districts are cutting wherever they can.
That includes some districts selling school buildings, which have been central to communities for decades.

The Olean City School Distirct is selling  two schools on the block.  Its century-old Ivers J. Norton Elementery School and the nearly-as-old Boardmanville Elementary School.

Olean Schools Superintendent Colleen Taggerty said there have been more than a dozen visits by interested groups, with a September 12 deadline for bids.

WBFO News file photo

There's a great struggle underway in education about teachers, questioning the way they are trained to be placed in front of a classroom of kids.

It's a routine event at school boards to complain that the teachers just aren't doing their jobs and that kids aren't learning because the teachers just aren't good enough.

Buffalo State College Dean of Education Wendy Paterson said it's not nearly that simple, pointing out the best single predictor of how well kids will do is the education of their parents.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

There will be a new education option for parents of young children in Buffalo this fall.  A new school will open offering the Waldorf teaching method. 

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley toured the space that's being prepared for the Wisteria School in North Buffalo where she spoke with the co-founder and a teacher.

Inside Central Park United Methodist Church on Beard Avenue workers were putting up new lighting in a hallway and you could smell the fresh paint on the walls of the first grade class room. The church offered Wisteria space to create their new school.

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo schools' fiscal problems have been well documented, but it's becoming apparent several area districts are experiencing similar difficulties.

With continuing cuts in state school aid part of the pattern of education in New York, districts are explaining the effects.

Many spoke to Governor Cuomo's Education Reform Commission which is holding meetings across the state and seeking some solutions. During a session last week, members heard stories of building closings, staff cuts, program cuts, even cuts in the number of class periods a day.

Test scores show mixed results for Buffalo students

Jul 17, 2012

New York State students in grades 3-8 are showing some improvement in math and English test scores, according to a report issued by the State Education Department today.

Statewide, 55.1 percent of students across the state showed proficiency in English, up three percent from last year. In math, the proficiency rate was 64.8 percent, an increase of 1.5 percent from last year.

In a prepared statement, Education Commissioner John King noted that the improvements were a small, positive step, but the results still are not good enough.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Life-long learners will be exploring some new workshops in July and August. The "UB This Summer Workshops" are open to the public. 

WBFO & AM-970”S Eileen Buckley sat down with a couple of UB professors who are leading two-very different workshops.

Sandy Geffner is the coordinator of the Environmental Studies program and will lead lead the Adirondack Adventures and Jeffery Sherven is with the Department of Visual Studies presenting “Screen-print Gig Poster"Workshop.


WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is pledging his support and assistance to the Buffalo School District as a new leader takes the helm.

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley says he will reach out to schools superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown.

"Dr. Brown has a keen mind and is a well respected education leader.  And I'm certainly looking forward to working with her and her team," said Mayor Brown.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Dr. Pamela Brown is now officially the new superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.   Brown was sworn in by Justice Rose Sconiers at City Hall Thursday afternoon. 

Brown's three-year contract was unanimously approved Wednesday night by the school board after a court battle. An attempt by Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino to block Brown's hiring was tossed out by State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek late Wednesday afternoon.

WBFO News File photo

State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek has ruled against a lawsuit filed by Buffalo developer Carl Paladino against the city school board for the hiring process of a new schools superintendent.  

Paladino claimed the Buffalo School board should have have vetted the candidates in public,  not behind closed doors.

Governor signs cyberbullying bill

Jul 9, 2012
Photo from YouTube

Governor Andrew Cuomo  signed Monday legislation that defines cyber-bullying in New York State. 

The bill, sponsored by members of the WNY delegation, was crafted following the suicide of Williamsville teenager Jamey Rodemeyer last September. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The response to a book that is being complied for the new Buffalo Schools Superintendent has been a success.

As part of the Say Yes to Education program, a special project is being launched by a longtime, local education expert, Peggy Brooks-Bertram.  The book is titled "Letters to the Superintendent". 

WBFO & AM-970's Eileen Buckley sat down with the author and three community stakeholders at the Merrymaker Library in Buffalo. 

Late Friday afternoon, members of Buffalo's Board of Education responded to accusations from Buffalo developer Carl Paladino asserting the board violated the state's open meetings law by convening in closed-door executive sessions when it chose Dr. Pamela Brown to be the district's new superintendent.

Paladino, a frequent critic of the board, has filed papers in State Supreme Court seeking to block Brown's hiring, as well as her transitional contract that pays her a consulting fee of $800 a day. 

File photo

Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino claims the city school board violated the state's open meetings law when it hired new schools superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown. 

Paladino has filed papers asking the State Supreme Court to block Brown's hiring and toss out her contract which also provides her with an $800  a day consultant fee prior to final contract approval. 

The board voted 7-2 for Brown at its June 13 meeting. The vote was taken after a lengthy executive session with no public discussion.

A court hearing on the matter is set for next Wednesday.