“What we say to them — commit — don't quit — complete your work,” declared Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo Pubic Schools.
Some Buffalo Public School students will be earning money while attending summer school.
It is part of a first-of-its-kind program created by the City of Buffalo and Buffalo School District, designed to support students have fallen behind from the pandemic and incentivize them to keep on track for graduating.
.@Buffalo_Schools @MayorByronBrown teaming to offer new program with plans to pay 200 high schoolers this summer to successfully to help combat learning loss during the pandemic. It’s called “Earn While You Learn” and is added to Mayor’s Summer Youth Program. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/4fLT8OYkcc— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) June 17, 2021
“Particularly our students and our families in the Buffalo Public Schools went through untold grievance,” described Dr. Cash. “It has been nothing like I’ve ever seen.”
City Schools Superintendent Cash appeared outside Lafayette International Community High School on Thursday, with Mayor Byron Brown and other school leaders, explaining how some city students suffered unfathomable sadness and loss brought on by the pandemic.
Some of the highest COVID numbers were in zip codes where students live.
“So, they lost jobs. Some became homeless, some had to care for their family member, some had to go to work to augment parents who lost jobs,” explained Dr. Cash. “If we provide this support to them. and get them back on track this summer, they can graduate on time.”
Those students have fallen behind and might not graduate. That's why the city is helping the district with the “Earn While You Learn" incentive program, through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program.
Students must complete six weeks of summer school and will be paid $12.50 an hour, allowing them to earn and learn a job skill and stay on track academically without worrying about loosing income.
This program will run for at least the next three years. The city says funding for this incentive has already been approved in the current budget, and after that it will be funded through the American Rescue Funds.
A total of 200-students have been identified, 20 are at Lafayette.
Principal John Starkey says it's really tough for some of his English Language Learner students from Puerto Rico who hold down jobs and have children of their own to support.
“What are you seeing with your student's right now who are falling behind?" Buckley asked.
“First and foremost — economic impact has been significant on our students, but then also needing to work and take care of family has pulled some of our students from being focused on education,” Starkey replied.
Starkey says last year his school had a nearly 83-percent graduation rate.
“We’re hoping to aim for an 80-percent graduation rate this year, although then we still want to do our due diligence to support that other 20-percent because we can't really be satisfied unless all of the students graduate,” Starkey responded.
The district noted, if students successfully complete the program they will also get an added financial incentive and students will receive a laptop computer.
Dr. Cash says there are similar "learn and earn" programs in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but claims they are not as “robust” as what the queen city is offering.
“This is phenomenal — this is a really out the box, innovative program,” remarked Dr. Cash.