School board recommends extending two charters

Feb 14, 2019

In a somewhat unusual support of charter schools, the Buffalo school board Wednesday night recommended Albany give three-year extensions to two charter schools.

The moves are unusual because Enterprise and Westminister Community are actually chartered by the school system, although years ago before there was a proliferation of charter schools in Western New York, particularly in the city.

Credit Facebook

Enterprise has had continuing academic problems but school board members say the school has improved and deserves three more years. Westminister has close ties with M&T Bank and is a key element in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood program, although it also has test score issues.

Enterprise Superintendent Julie Schwab says ELA scores have doubled.

"You can only focus one thing at a time, right? So, we can focus on our culture. We can focus on getting systems and structures in place and then I purposely chose to focus on ELA first, knowing that math these days is about reading, as well. So, if I can get my reading scores up, the presumption would be that math will come along," Schwab said.

Board member Larry Quinn says his fellow members support parental choice in education.

"It was interesting that people today said that parents should have a choice which is what I have been saying since I've been on the board. So, I'm glad that that was acknowledged. It's not that significant because, again, they aren't independent charters. They're school board charters," Quinn said.

Board member Sharon Belton Cottman says the schools need to seek help from the district.

"Choice exists. However, we want to be clear moving forward that there are resources that are available in the Buffalo public schools that need to be taken advantage of, particularly these two schools," she said.

There has been a constant ebb and flow of charters lately, including last year's closing of Oracle and the planned closing this year of Aloma D. Johnson, while Buffalo Collegiate and Persistence Preparatory have opened.

The actual decision on renewing the two schools goes to the state Board of Regents.