The Buffalo School Board’s committee meetings Thursday night ended with a ruckus.
But it was not caused by board members or parents or the state Education Department.
A fire alarm went off just as the board was preparing to convene its second committee meeting on student achievement, at which board members were supposed to get an update on Pinnacle Charter School.
Instead of holding the second meeting, board members gathered on a sidewalk behind City Hall. They voted to adjourn after learning that there was a malfunctioning fire alarm on the 12th floor, and firefighters couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. The board meets on the eighth floor.
Before the meeting was adjourned, administrator Will Keresztes presented a summary of the district’s transfers of students who want to leave underperforming schools.
The final tally of transfer applications the district received for this school year was 2,110, Keresztes said. Of that, 191 students so far have been placed in schools in good standing. Up to 500 students may be transferred by February.
Many of the requests were for early elementary grades. For instance, 229 first-graders and 204 second-graders requested transfers. The next-largest group were middle-schoolers, including 235 from sixth-graders, 226 in fifth grade and 214 seventh-graders.
At the high school level, 40 seniors wanted to go to better schools, while 77 juniors applied, as well as 113 sophomores and 108 freshmen.
Most of the confirmed 191 transfers – 68 of them – were placed in South Buffalo’s Lorraine Academy No. 72, including 18 in kindergarten, 13 first-graders, 24 second-graders, two in the third grade, one each in fourth and fifth grades, four in sixth grade and five in the eighth.
Sixty-seven students were transferred to School 81 on Tacoma Avenue, including 22 second-graders, 21 third-graders, 12 kindergartners, six in first grade, three in fourth grade and one each in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
Hillery Park Elementary in South Buffalo will be getting 33 transfer students, including 14 kindergartners, four in first grade, 10 second-graders, two each in the third and fourth grades, and one eighth-grader.
Porter Avenue’s Leonardo DaVinci High School 212 will receive 14 new students: 10 juniors, three seniors and a sophomore. Of the six who were placed in Olmsted School 54, five are in kindergarten, and one is a first-grader. Emerson 302 will get three transfers into its sophomore class.
Families living in three ZIP codes accounted for 46 percent of all transfer applications. Two of those ZIP codes – 14211 and 14215 – encompass two adjacent East Side areas east and south of the Kensington Expressway. The third ZIP code, 14207, includes Black Rock and Riverside.
In other matters:
• An earlier meeting of the board’s Educational Support Services Committee was held as scheduled before the fire alarm went off.
• Board members heard from the principals of both City Honors School and Olmsted 156, both elite district schools, about their desire to drop the creativity testing admissions requirement. That would reduce the number of admissions requirements for these schools from seven to six.
Principals said there is no need to inconvenience parents and students with the creativity test because the students who perform well on that test are the same ones who perform well on the other admissions tests.