The Buffalo Public Schools administration on Wednesday recommended leaving Leonardo da Vinci High School on the D’Youville campus – reversing its previous recommendation to move it.
District administrators also recommended moving International Prep and Middle Early College into the Grover Cleveland building in the fall of 2013, after renovations there are complete.
“One of the things we’re looking at is the design of Grover Cleveland – it’s shaped like a Y,” community superintendent David Mauricio told the board. “It allows both schools to be housed there.”
The two programs would share common areas such as the auditorium and cafeteria, but otherwise each would have its designated sections of the building, officials said.
The proposal represents a turnaround from the recommendation made by then-Superintendent James A. Williams in April 2011. To save money on leases, he recommended moving da Vinci off the D’Youville campus and into the Grover building once its lease expires in 2013. The district pays the college about $851,000 a year.
Williams also recommended not renewing Middle College’s Main Street lease – an annual cost of $496,000 – when it expires next year. The board voted 7-1 in April 2011 in favor of the recommendation.
In recent months, da Vinci parents and students have urged the board to leave their school on the college campus. Da Vinci students enroll in college courses at no charge to their families and have use of the campus library, gym and other facilities.
And International Prep students, parents and staff have lobbied to move back into Grover. The program temporarily moved into the old Performing Arts building on Clinton Street more than a year ago while Grover was renovated. Three-fourths of the school’s students live on the West Side in the area right near that building, which is home to a large and growing immigrant population.
Officials said the board needs to decide quickly what it wants to do, because construction decisions need to be made based on that decision.
Only four board members – Jason McCarthy, Sharon Belton-Cottman, Barbara Seals Nevergold and Ralph Hernandez – were present for the discussion, but it sparked a heated debate.
McCarthy argued passionately for the district to stick to the plan to move da Vinci to Grover and expand it to begin in fifth grade, rather than ninth grade. Da Vinci is one of the most highly regarded high schools in the district.
Belton-Cottman said da Vinci should remain on the college campus and push to get more space there.