Expected vote on fate of four Buffalo failing schools

Feb 13, 2015

The Buffalo Board of Education meets in special session Friday morning to decide the fate of four failing city schools.  WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the board is meeting to consider the phase-in and request for space proposals.

Buffalo Board of Education listening in January to MLK School's proposed phase-in plan.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"This was an enormous effort by many people," said Interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent Don Ogilvie responding to the four phase-in  presented and reviewed over the past couple of months for Bennett High School, Lafayette, East High and Martin Luther King school. 

MLK School could shut down.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"This is how we respond -- admirably in an informed way and maybe even heroically," said Ogilvie.

The New York State Education Department has asked the District to decide on plans or shut down the low performing schools. But a divided school board has captivated the community with parents, teacher and students fighting back. 

The School Board's majority is reportedly in favor of shuttering the four schools and offering some of those buildings to charter schools.  School board member Carl Paladino has been accused of his own invested interest in some of the area charter schools, while minority members are fighting to keep the schools open.

School board member Barbara Seals Nevergold worries where students will land if the schools are shut down.   

Buffalo School Board member Barbara Seals Nevergold
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"Well that's a concern and that's a question. It is certainly one that I think about seriously. Where do those students go?," said Seals Nevergold.       

WBFO News talked with Bennett High School math teacher Jeff Gross, who has no idea what will happen if his school closes.

"Nobody really knows right now and that's an uneasy feeling. I've never had to really worry about not going back to Bennett," said Grossi.