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Following scathing RCSD report, could the answer to success be found in Buffalo?

November 16, 2018 07:06 PM

Rochester City School District leaders are still digesting a scathing report from an expert, appointed by the state, that found dozens of problems. 

But could the answers be only as far as 70 miles away in Buffalo's new program called Education Bargain.

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The sign still says Build Academy, but the school district has transformed the K-8th grade school into the Build Community School, with an emphasis on community. 

That's one of the changes the district has made to improve student learning and performance.

Just a few years ago, the majority of Buffalo's 61 schools were in trouble. The state took over 25 of them. In 2012, Buffalo Public Schools had a 49 percent graduation rate. 

In just six years, the district says 12 of those schools have moved out of receivership, 26 are in good standing and 21 schools have improved their state standing. 

The graduation rate is also up to 64 percent.

"To see the level of engagement from parents, students, teachers, I think the impact is something you can't always measure," said Larry Scott.

Scott is the co-chair of Buffalo's Parent Teacher Organization. He has a son in kindergarten and a son in the third grade. He likes the focus of the Education Bargain program.

Its core principles: rigorous early education, strong community schools, new innovative high schools, extended learning excellence for all students, services for the neediest children and families, and a new relationship with teachers. 

Scott is amazed at the difference the opening schools have made.

The parent center at Build Community School was empty Friday when News10NBC stopped by, but come Saturday you could find a dance class, a cooking class, an educational seminar, or a quiet room for moms. 

On any given Saturday or week night, this school is open to the community, and the principal says churches and community groups have signed on in a big way. 

Scott credits the vision of Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash for Buffalo's success. 

A district spokesperson says he was recruited by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia who had worked with him in Florida. 

 "He's found a way with his clear vision to bring together parents, teachers, students, other stakeholders, elected officials, collective bargaining units...some people who didn't get along...and we're all working to achieve the Education Bargain," Scott said.

Credits

Lynette Adams

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