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7 Buffalo schools to get nearly $18 million from state Education Department

Seven persistently low-achieving Buffalo schools have been awarded nearly $18 million in grants to help turn around their poor academic performance.

The seven will receive a total of $17.7 million over five years as part of a new round of School Improvement Grants distributed by the state Education Department. The seven are:

• Dr. Antonio Pantoja Community School of Academic Excellence, a school for grades prekindergarten through eighth grade on West Avenue, $2.5 million.

• The Academy School, on South Park Avenue, $2.5 million.

• Riverside Institute of Technology, on Ontario Street, $2.5 million.

• Bennett Park Montessori, a school for grades 3 to 8, on Clinton Street, $2.5 million.

• Arthur O. Eve School of Distinction, a pre-K through grade 4, on Leroy Avenue, $2.5 million.

• Early Childhood Center, a pre-K through grade 4, on Easton Avenue, $2.5 million.

• Bennett High School, on Main Street, which previously received School Improvement Grant funding and is being phased out in favor of a different model, but will receive $200,000 in new funding, for a total of $2.7 million, to help with the phaseout this year.

The grants were announced Monday by the state Education Department.

Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash called the additional funding “fabulous news” and said the extra money will provide the district “much-needed resources, as we continue to transform our schools in high-need ZIP codes.”

In particular, he said, Riverside and the district’s Alternative Program were on his radar screen this year and are in store for some changes.

These funds will help to “turboboost” the district’s efforts, Cash said.

The School Improvement Grants are from the U.S. Department of Education and funneled through states to target the lowest-performing schools. The schools awarded SIG funding must implement one of six turnaround models. Replacing the building principals and providing a higher-quality, early learning intervention program are among the strategies that will be used at the Buffalo schools.

The funding – a half-million dollars a year for five years – would be used for a variety of purposes, including teacher development, new career programs at Riverside and adding instructional staff to improve student literacy and math at the elementary schools. The seven schools are among the 20 in Buffalo that are under receivership this year, which means the superintendent can make changes without the approval of the School Board or negotiating with the teachers union.

The $17.7 million for the seven schools is part of the $95 million awarded over five years to 39 low-achieving schools across New York, according to the state Education Department.

“Every student in every school across New York must have the opportunity to succeed and to do that we need to help our struggling schools improve,” Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement.

“This grant program provides these schools with the chance to effect change and implement strategies that will give their students the best shot at future success.”

email: jrey@buffnews.com

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