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Protests today kick off critical week for schools

The next several days will see various groups in the local education scene doing their best to make their voices heard by the Board of Education and the administration of the Buffalo Public Schools, which must submit turnaround plans for nine low-performing schools by May 9.

Things kick off around 3:30 p.m. today, when the Buffalo Teachers Federation plans to start gathering in front of City Hall to protest the district's plans to move hundreds of teachers as part of its turnaround plans.

At this point, it's unclear whether the district plans to stick with its widely criticized plans to move the teachers. As of Tuesday, even Board President Ralph Hernandez still did not know what administrators planned to do.

Superintendent James Williams and his staff are expected to provide an update on the turnaround plans to the board at its 4 p.m. committee meeting in Room 801 of City Hall today. The meeting is open to the public.

That's followed by a 5:30 p.m. regular board meeting, also open to the public, which is expected to draw a large crowd of parents and community members who are also opposed to plans to transfer hundreds of teachers. Over the past few days, parents have been collecting signatures on an online petition, protesting the proposed teacher transfers.

The board is expected to vote on a resolution that would require the board to approve the turnaround plans before the administration sends the plans to Albany.

The board had been scheduled to vote on the turnaround plans at tonight's meeting, but several board members have said they are not prepared to vote because the administration has not yet provided them with any information about the plans.

It seems likely the board will call a special meeting at some point next week to vote on the plans.

Opportunities for public participation continue next week, when the District Parent Coordinating Council convenes a meeting with the superintendent, board members, Common Council members, and representatives from the governor's office, state Legislature and state Education Department.

The public is invited to attend the session, which is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at Performing Arts, 450 Masten Ave.

- Mary Pasciak

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