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Williams unveils academic plan Superintendent says six principles drive comprehensive school reform

School Superintendent James A. Williams unveiled his Three-Year Academic Achievement Plan Tuesday evening before hundreds of parents in the auditorium of City Honors High School on Masten Avenue.

Williams said that comprehensive school reform -- more challenging than bricks and mortar -- is driven by six principles:

* A quality teacher in every classroom.

* A challenging curriculum for all subjects.

* Accountability from the superintendent on down.

* Expanded instructional time.

* Intensive professional development of teachers, administrators and support staff.

* Meaningful family involvement and community collaboration.

"Tell your child you love him in the morning," Williams said, turning to his parental-involvement policy. "Send him to school a happy child, and we'll be able to do more for him."

Williams drew applause when he advised: "Turn off that TV and DVD player and sit with your children and assist them with their homework. Get in the habit of monitoring their work."

Outlining budget requests that he will make to the Board of Education over the next three years, Williams said he wants to extend the school day and school year; assign reading coaches to classrooms; offer honors and advanced-placement courses in every high school; and expand the gifted and talented program.

He drew applause when he pledged "a full-time nurse in every school."

To fund these programs, Williams said, he has turned to the State Legislature, area corporations, foundations, colleges and sports franchises.

"We need a strong work force," Williams said. "I'm looking for $1 million from a foundation to retrain our principals over the next few years. Great principals will find good teachers. And I will ask the board for 1 percent of our budget -- about $1.5 million -- to invest in our teachers."

Upon graduation from the Buffalo public schools, Williams said, a student will be prepared to enter the trades or college.

"This means passing five Regents exams," he added, "whether you are in a vocational or academic school."

Williams also talked about partnerships he is forming with the judiciary.

"Our judges are working with us on social and emotional issues involving our students," he said. "I asked the judges where our areas of highest concentration of poverty are. They said in the Masten, Niagara, Fillmore and Ellicott districts. We have identified 28 focus schools; 15 of them are Superintendent's Focus Schools."

In the audience were Chief City Judge Thomas Amadeo and City Judges James McLeod, E. Jeannette Ogden, Thomas Franczyk and Sharon Lo Vallo.

"I like competition," Williams said as he concluded. "I'm going to compete with private schools and charter schools, because parents are asking for quality public schools and we are going to give it to you."

The superintendent singled out several high-achieving students in the audience, who stood to be recognized.

The Waterfront School Chorale and the Buffalo Academy for Visual & Performing Arts provided music for the evening.

e-mail: acardinale@buffnews.com

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