Board Proposes Outside Agency Take Over Failing Schools

May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 11:41 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 11:41 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY

Controversy over what to do about the failing public schools in Buffalo took center stage at a special meeting called by the board of education Thursday night.

"The truth of the matter is this issue is about the system of education that has been failing kids since its inception!" exclaimed Sam Radford, Vice President of the Buffalo Public Schools Parent Coordinating Council.

It's an issue President Obama is trying to tackle in his Race to the Top initiative. The federal government has set aside $4 billion for the nation's failing schools. Two million dollars per year, per school for three years, in order to help turn things around.

But, the money does not come without strings attached. The school districts must follow one of four federally approved plans in order to qualify for the cash, and the application deadline for Buffalo Public Schools is Monday.

Radford argues the board is making the decision without giving parents enough time to weigh in.

"In the last month we have had three different plans. Now we are at the polar opposite of those plans," said Radford.

Board members voted unanimously Thursday night, to adopt the federally-approved "Restart" option for all seven failing schools identified by the state this year. Each school will be managed by an educational partnership organization or "EPO," such as a college or not-for-profit.

The seven schools are:

Buffalo Elementary School of Technology
Bilingual Center
Futures Academy
Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School
Lafayette High School
East High School

If the state approves the district's application the EPO plans would go into effect in September 2011. The Board also selected the EPO plan because the plan was favored by the teacher's union because it will have little to no impact on teachers, unlike some of the other plans which would replace teachers and principles.

Members of the parent council and their children still plan to boycott the schools on May 16th.