BUFFALO, NY – “It’s a start,” said Larry Scott, Co-Chair, Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization, following a meeting with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, where Brown agreed to increase the city’s contribution to its public schools, which had remained flat for more than a decade.

Scott’s group, and the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) combined forces to call for an increase, noting that Buffalo contributed far less, as a percentage of its public school budget, than other large upstate cities.

Though the $500,000 annual increase agreed to by the mayor is a far cry from the $8.5 million increase proposed by school superintendent Kriner Cash, the parents groups were just as pleased to have gotten a meeting with the Mayor and a commitment to talk further.

“Parents have never even gotten a seat at the table before when it came to these sorts of negotiations, so that’s big,” said DPPC Vice President Bryon McIntyre. “We’re seeing the district under Dr. Cash and his new education bargain move in right direction.

The City of Buffalo contributes $70.3 million to its schools annually, which reflects about 8% of the school budget. Rochester gives $119 million, or about 14% of the school budget in that city, while Syracuse contributes $65 million comprising 15% of the school budget there.

While the $500,000 increase committed to by Brown (bringing the annual contribution to $70.8 million) would barely move the needle in terms of what the parents group called a disparity, it does reflect the first increase in the city’s annual contribution in 12 years.

The mayor, who until Thursday had publicly appeared unwilling to increase the city’s contribution, had noted that during that same time period, the Buffalo Public School District has received an additional $305 million in New York State school aid, with the state contribution rising from $408 million to a current $714 million.

Brown also noted that the city contributes administrative space, utilities, security, and scholarship funds through the Say Yes program to the district.