The WBFO Education News Desk is funded by KeyBank Foundation.

Cafeteria Chats and Student Journals are part of American Graduate – Let’s Make It Happen – a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities keep more students on the path to graduation.

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.


WBFO News by Mike Desmond

There are now two new people at the top of the Buffalo school system with the election of Mary Ruth Kapsiak to be president of the Board of Education. 

Kapsiak is a long-time city schools administrator who has been president before. She was elected to replace Louis Petrucci during Monday's annual reorganization meeting. 

The new president is also in charge of contract bargaining with Pamela Brown, the recently-chosen new schools superintendent whose contract is still being finalized with a July 11 goal.

Mike Desmond/WBFO

Buffalo's oldest charter school wants to expand and add grades.

King Center Charter School is up for renewal and told the school board it wants to add grades and add students. That would require a building addition, which the school says it has a plan for.

The school board must approve a renewal and that goes to Albany for final approval.

While Albany has closed charter schools locally and is tangled in a court case over closing another, King has strong test scores and is doing relatively well.

Photo from YouTube video

The four Greece middle school students who gained notoriety earlier this month for relentlessly taunting an elderly bus monitor have been suspended from school for one year. 

The Greece Central School District made the announcement late Friday afternoon, following an investigation. 

A 10-minute video of the students hurling insults at 68-year-old Karen Klein quickly went viral, resulting in national outrage and an outpouring of sympathy toward the monitor.  An online donation effort for Klein has raised more than $665,000. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Interim Buffalo School Superintendent Amber Dixon is speaking out for the first time about not being selected to lead the city school district.  

Dixon tells WBFO & AM-970 News she is "disappointed" about not being selected to lead the city school district.

In a recent 7 to 2 vote, the school board recently selected Dr. Pamela Brown, a  former Philadelphia school administrator.  She will also become the first African-American woman to hold the permanent post. 

Elliott named Buffalo's "Distinguished Educator"

Jun 25, 2012

A Western New York native will return to her roots in an effort to boost some of the city's lowest-achieving schools.

State officials have named Judy Elliott as the Buffalo School District's "Distinguished Educator."

Elliott most recently served as chief academic officer with Los Angeles city schools. She is a 1978 Kenmore East graduate who earned a bachelor's degree at Buffalo State College.

Elliott's part-time salary will be paid for by the Buffalo district, which is expected to be reimbursed by the state.


The relentless taunting of a 68-year-old school bus monitor in the Greece School District spawned an international rally against bullying.

When a ten-minute video went viral on YouTube, more than a quarter-million dollars was raised for Karen Klein. 

7th & 8th grade boys bullied and taunted Klein on a school bus Monday about her appearance, calling her fat and even making threats. 

Photo from UB Website

The University at Buffalo appears to be one of the first campuses in the Buffalo area to implement Gender-Neutral Housing.  This will allow couples of the opposite sex to now live together in campus housing.

"We would have request from time to time from students who were looking for housing options that didn't restrict them from living with individuals who identified either as male or female," said Brian Haggerty, UB's senior associate director of campus living.

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo's Public Schools will be under the leadership of a new superintendent in the fall, with the election of Dr. Pamela Brown to head the district.    The city school board voted 7-2 Wednesday night in favor of the veteran educator.

"Such a very vital position. Everyone has strong feelings.   We strived to come up with a unanimous decision," said School Board President Lou Petrucci following Wednesday night's nomination and public vote at City Hall. 

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo Public School teachers have signed off on a teacher evaluation plan after nearly six-months of exchanges with the state education department and Buffalo School District.

Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore said the evaluation agreement finally makes sense to teachers.   This agreement paves the way for more than $5 million in improvement grants for six failing city schools.

"After three days of meetings, the teachers at the effective school hammered out an agreement that they felt was fair," said Rumore. 

High school graduation rates are showing a slight improvement across the state, but still remain too low for students to be competitive.  That is according to the New York State Education Department that released rates Monday. 

Image from Clarence Central School District Website

Business First is out with its annual list of Best Elementary schools in Western NewYork.   According to the paper and WBFO and AM 970's Mark Leitner, there's been changing of the guard in the academic rankings. 

We kind of grew accustomed to seeing a first place finish for the Southern Tier Catholic Elementary School.  But today, there's a new number one.