Experts hired by Say Yes to Education Buffalo have released their reports on Buffalo city schools and officials say the findings will be integral to the district's future planning.
The reports were presented to the Buffalo school board on Monday and discussed Wednesday at the first Say Yes Buffalo Community Leadership Council meeting at the First Niagara Center. The quarterly meetings are open to the public.
Findings from Say Yes consultants Cross & Joftus and Schoolhouse Partners included:
• The district's structure needs to be realigned to reflect student population and strengths and weaknesses.
• Anywhere from $13 to $20 million could be saved through "efficiencies" in staffing and process and that money could be redirected to support district programs.
• In the past, no clear theory of action has guided district decision-making.
• The district has no comprehensive professional strategy to serve educators and administrators.
The detailed reports are available at SayYesBuffalo.com or by calling 716-247-5310. Schools' Superintendent Pamela Brown, who was hired in July, said the reports will be used by the district to support a long-range plan that will encompass budgetary and programmatic decisions. The plan is expected to be complete by February 2013.
Brown has said the district must begin using data more effectively if student enrollment and test scores are to eventually improve.
"It's a new day in the city of Buffalo and a new day in Buffalo public schools," she said.
The main mission for Say Yes Buffalo is to provide scholarships for any graduating senior in the district so they can attend a SUNY or CUNY school and not have to pay tuition. The program has a similar arrangement with a consortium of private colleges.
But it also takes active part in the school district's programs: this fall it started a four-year rollout of site facilitators to each school to analyze strengths and weaknesses and help design programs around those characteristics. Say Yes Buffalo has thus far raised $18 million - it will eventually take about $100 million to fulfill the program's 20-year commitment to Buffalo, Rust has estimated.
The leadership council is led by five co-chairs, including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett, Alphonso O'Neil-White, representing Say Yes funders, Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe and school board President Mary Ruth Kapsiak.
Asked if she was discouraged by the findings, Kapsiak said it's important now that all of the actors have "a sense of urgency."
"We can't just sit back after this report has been done and do nothing," she said.
The next meeting of the council will be Feb. 6. Details of the site and agenda will be announced on the Say Yes website closer to that date.