Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Questions arise about control of schools in promise neighborhood project

There is still some confusion about control issues surrounding the Buffalo Schools in the federal Buffalo Promise Neighborhood grant under the Westminster Foundation.
The President of the Buffalo Federation of Teachers, Phil Rumore resigned from the Westminster Foundation board recently.
Buffalo News reporter Mary Pasciak wrote because foundation wanted the district to commit too much of its  funds and cede control of the schools under the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood project.  The two schools are Highgate Heights Elementary School and Bennett High School essentially, adopting a model similar to Westminster  Community Charter School.
Eleven years ago in 1993, M&T Bank started a partnership with Buffalo Public School #68.  One year later in 1994, Dr. Yvonne Minor-Ragan was recruited and appointed principal, the named changed to  Westminster Community School in 1995, and ten years later in 2004, it was converted to the Westminster Community Charter School .  In its charter school phase the Buffalo Board of Education had to deposit the school funds into  M&T Bank responsible for operating the school including staffing it. And  its charter was renewed for another five years in 2009.
The plan is to open an early childhood center on Bailey Avenue and Amherst Street to serve as a feeder school into the Westminster Community Charter School,  Highgate Heights and Bennett High School that Yvonne Minor-Ragan called a pipeline. She said, "Our goal is to take them through this pipeline and have them go on to college and careers."
There are about 12,000 residents in the 14215 area expected to bring in another 14,000 from adjacent communities to include in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood project. Buffalo applied and obtained a planning grant that only 21 communities out of 339 received across the nation.
There is confusion regarding if Highgate Heights and Bennett High School  don't meet Adequate Yearly Progress AYP that Westminster Charter can availed itself of remedial options that caused Rosalynd Taylor, the Board of Ed East District Rep to ask she hopes its in consultation with the district. Also, West District Board Rep. Ralph Hernandez asked a question re the budget saying, "getting back to the issue of the budget. Is it safe to assume when we're talking about your budget (it) will exist within our budget. Once we pass a budget, your budget is approved, right?" Then,  David Chamberlain from the Westminster Foundation responded, "That's correct." 
Chamberlain added that part of the Promise Neighborhood funds extend beyond the schools so,
"All we're requesting is what you currently fund those two schools at and what you would fund similar schools."
It appears the  partnership is  with the Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools not the Buffalo Board of Education, Chamberlain responded they structured the project that way.
If $4 million to $6 million allocated to the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood project with M&T Bank fully matching the grant, including raising another $9 million privately as it stated through Chamberlain, the bank becomes a key player in the project. The Buffalo Board of Education has to grapple with the issue of  funding the budget for and control of these schools in the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood project. 

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Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo