BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – The Buffalo Public School District has unveiled a draft plan to spend $ 289 million in federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Plan (ESSER).
The district proposes to spend $ 175 million in federal funding to help support students academically.
District leaders say students are in dire need of support after completing more than a year of distance learning.
“Then we can make sure that every child – present, future – has an opportunity, has greater equity, better access and better quality to achieve,” said Dr. Kriner Cash, principal of Buffalo Public Schools.
Dr Cash presented a draft document of over 109 pages at a press conference Thursday morning with members of the school board.
Cash said the project outlines the proposed spending areas, all designed to improve the lives of schoolchildren in the city.
But Cash noted that he also addresses many of the challenges students face outside of the classroom.
“Ten important challenges that impact our children outside of school,” Cash said.
The superintendent said the draft document examines four main areas of spending:
- Safely reopen schools, ensuring all buildings have good air quality and safe drinking water at a cost of $ 38 million
- Provide support services to students
- District information and digital technology upgrades at a cost of $ 39 million
- Help the academic growth of students at a cost of $ 175 million.
“Is the whole field of teaching and learning and our core business – how are we going to continue to support the academic growth of students in schools?” Cash said.
Superintendent Cash says the biggest expense will be on academics.
“That’s the big chunk of the pie – it’s 60% of the pie and it’s $ 175 million going into it,” Cash explained.
The discussion paper would include funding for student support services, as so many black and brown families have suffered during the pandemic.
“A lot of our students suffer from anxiety – depression from eating disorders – of all kinds of emotional psycho-social effects,” Cash said.
The project includes the safe reopening of schools, spending $ 38 million to ensure all school buildings have adequate air quality and lead-free water.
Spend an additional $ 39 million on district information technology upgrades.
But much of the spending would go to tutoring, including the establishment of several new high schools and two gender-specific schools – one for women, one for men.
“And there’s a lot of good research coming out of other schools across the country that when you do gender-based academies and focus on the specific and particular needs that boys and girls have in their development, students grow faster and go faster, ”noted Cash. .
“I see an investment in consulting staff. I see an investment in social work. I’ve seen a suggestion for instrumental music in all of our elementary schools, ”said Larry Scott, General School Board member. “I saw a significant investment in culturally appropriate education.
Buffalo School Board members Scott and Paulette Woods appeared as the draft was unveiled. Both say they are happy with the way it would support the city’s students.
“I think it’s going in the right direction. It’s focused and the main thing for me in developing the plan – our parent groups have been involved, ”said Woods.
Wendy Mistretta, chair of the District Parenting Coordinating Council, said her group provided initial feedback but was promised they would see the draft before it was submitted to the state.
“And we reminded them of that – every chance we have – when are we going to see the project – even at the last board meeting – it was brought up again and we never saw it, but we did. we still ‘I haven’t seen it,’ Mistretta described.
But Mistretta says about 15 parents will be part of a district focus group this month to share their thoughts.
Mistretta says she wants to know how the district will identify students who need help.
“How are we going to do this? How are we going to determine which students need which type of support? “Said Mistretta.
As for the city’s students who fell off the radar screen during the pandemic and were not present for distance learning, Cash says this is also addressed in the draft plan.
The district suggests that parent liaison monitors students who do not show up to class.
“They can knock on doors and make calls,” Cash said.
Cash said the district would pay these parents allowances to do the work 30 hours a week.
Woods says there’s an entire section on the board watching him.
“Our goal – to get every child back to school,” said Woods.
The district said the plan would also provide training for teachers and hire more staff.
The superintendent says this project will not be approved right away and will remain fluid throughout the summer.
” It is a work in progress. It is not done. It’s going to be fluid throughout the summer, ”Cash replied.
The superintendent is asking the community to stay engaged because he says the district is at a “tipping point.”
“But we’re at a tipping point,” Cash replied. “And we’re either going to continue down this path or you’re going to head for more municipal decline.”