Eight more low-performing Buffalo schools will be submitting improvement plans in January using the least-dramatic of four federal models, district officials told the School Board on Wednesday.
One other low-performing school will submit an application that involves hiring an outside group to run it.
The improvement plans for those nine schools are in addition to plans that are already in the works for another 12 low-performing schools.
But it’s questionable whether the state Education Department will even consider the district’s grant application for the nine schools – regardless of what model is used – because of the impasse with the teachers union over teacher evaluations.
The district must submit improvement plans for nine more schools by Jan. 25, officials said. But if the district does not have an approved teacher evaluation plan in place by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Jan. 17 deadline, the state Education Department will not even consider those grant applications, they said.
“It’s the potential to not have access to up to $18 million for our lowest-performing schools,” said Debra Sykes, associate superintendent.
Each school is eligible for up to $2 million a year for three years in federal improvement grants, although the state generally has been awarding less than the maximum amount to schools.
That potential $18 million in forgone grant funding is in addition to $33.4 million in districtwide state aid the Buffalo schools stand to lose if they miss Cuomo’s deadline for having an approved teacher evaluation plan.
The district has four federal improvement models to choose from for its low-performing schools.
One option would be closing a school – not considered a viable option in Buffalo, because those students would still need seats somewhere in the district.
Another option is known as the turnaround model, which involves replacing half the teachers.
The district and the union are currently involved in a court battle over the involuntary transfer of 51 teachers this year – making that model a nonstarter for plans for next year, Sykes said.
“It wouldn’t make sense to try to do a turnaround, given the current case,” she said.
The other two federal models are known as “restart,” which involves hiring an outside group to run a school; and “transformation,” which involves making changes that are considered less dramatic than replacing half the staff or hiring another entity to run the building.
The district currently is using the transformation model at Burgard, Bennett, South Park and Riverside high schools; International School 45; and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Institute.
In the past year, the state has identified 16 more Buffalo schools as chronically low-performing. Albany is requiring Buffalo to submit improvement plans for nine of them for 2013-14; the remaining seven must submit plans for the following year.
The district can use the transformation model for no more than eight of the 16, under federal regulations.
Superintendent Pamela C. Brown on Wednesday declined to release the names of the nine schools that would submit improvement plans for 2013-14. She said she would release the schools’ names at next week’s School Board meeting.
District officials will choose the nine schools from these 16: BUILD Academy; Makowski Early Childhood Center; Herman Badillo Community School; Waterfront Elementary; School 17; Hamlin Park Elementary; Highgate Heights; Harvey Austin; Harriet Ross Tubman; International Prep; West Hertel Elementary; North Park Academy; McKinley High School; Frank Sedita School; D’Youville-Porter Campus and Dr. Lydia T. Wright School.