BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo School Board discussed two education options Thursday that involve Erie 1 BOCES that are meant to turn around two struggling schools in the district.
The two schools are East High School and Lafayette High School.
All students at the two schools could take career and technical courses through BOCES.
Earlier this month, the state Education Commissioner released a letter informing the district that progress at the schools has been exceedingly low.
"Our children are in a crisis, we're not acting like they're in a burning building, we're acting like we can really think about this, they're in a burning building, we've got to get our kids out of there," said Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, a school board member.
Therefore, the state has charged the district with formulating a plan that would address low-performing success levels by August 12.
Dr. Pamela Brown, superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, laid out two options that the district could choose from, plus benefits and challenges that come with both options. She's confident that the district can use its time wisely and submit a successful plan.
The first option would provide access to high quality courses with BOCES.
A challenge would be cost.
According to school officials, option one would cost the district $7,600 per student, if they chose to study with BOCES. Another cost would be addressing transportation needs.
Meantime, the second option would offer access to programs and internships. But, cost would be a challenge with this option too, because the overall cost per student is unknown.
Whatever the district decides, Buffalo will lose some state funding.
A big challenge both options present is how BOCES will improve the education of students who don't speak English.
According to school officials, Johns Hopkins University can assist Buffalo students, if they're part of BOCES.
Some board members are encouraged by preliminary graduation rates that have been released showing East High had a graduation rate of 47 percent in June. That's a 17 percent jump from 2008.
On the other hand, Lafayette has stayed in the low twenty percent range from 2008 to now.
The Buffalo teacher's union, parents and the district say they are all committed to turning around both schools.
Carl Paladino, a member of the Board of Education said that the district should attempt to meet the goals that the state has for the district.
Union president Phil Rumore believes that legal action should be taken against the state for the "burden" it's placed on Buffalo schools to come up with a plan.
The district will hold two community meetings, one on July 22 and the other on July 24 to speak with families and students about the two plans under consideration.
The district will decide on one option at a special board meeting that will be held on July 31.