Working through poverty in Falls City School District

Dec 1, 2017

Many students in the Niagara Falls City School District are dealing with poverty.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the district works to stop poverty barriers for students.

Outside Niagara Falls High School, Niagara Falls, NY.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"It’s really an equity issue. Especially for where I come in Niagara falls,” said Mark Laurrie, superintendent of Niagara Falls City Schools.

Laurrie tells WBFO News higher poverty rates make it difficult for Falls city high school students to prep for SAT's.

“In Niagara we have a population that has 77% of our students receiving free and reduced lunches and those students don't have the access to the preparation courses, so what they do have access to is a rigorous curriculum with caring people in the high school,” Laurrie explained.

Laurrie is now in his second school year as the district superintendent, overseeing 11-Niagara Falls schools with more than 7,000 students.  Laurrie says the challenge to improve academic performance continues, but they're not afraid of the “rigors” of those standards.

"I think that we are in a really good place with the alignment of our curriculum. I think we always talking about ways to build relationships with our kids and keeping our families involved, those are always the big challenges,” remarked Laurrie.      

Mark Laurrie, superintendent of Niagara Falls City Schools.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

They’ve created different delivery systems and programs to assist students at their schools.

“The days of the 8 to 3 school day are really getting more and more passé, so in the middle school, for instance, students we having trouble with that regular school day of coming 8 to 3, we are offering an option for those students who need it  – start their day later and finish their day later with certified teachers. It may be a small population of kids – 30 at each middle school – but some kids are just not cut out for regular 8 to 3 day and we’ve got to adjust, we can’t expect them to adjust, so we are adjusting our scheduled,” Laurrie said.

Laurrie said they’re always talking about ways to build keep relationships with our students and how to keep families involved.

“Dads, moms, grandparents, but having families – we have to create the mechanisms to meet families where they’re at and not expect them to come into schools,” responded Laurrie.