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The Buffalo Board of Education on Wednesday approved contracts with three educational partnership organizations – or EPOs – that will allow the organizations to continue operating in four struggling schools next year.

The contracts, which now go the state Department of Education for approval, will cost the district about $4.24 million.

This means Johns Hopkins University will continue its partnership with the school district at East and Lafayette high schools for the upcoming school year, and the Westminster Foundation will remain at Highgate Heights Elementary School. In addition, Research to Practice will stay on at Buffalo Elementary School of Technology.

The three EPOs are charged with improving academic excellence at the schools.

An EPO is essentially the superintendent of the school and has the power to implement the educational program.

In addition, the organization can make decisions about budgets, staffing, student discipline and curriculum.

The contract amount with Johns Hopkins is about $1.08 million, which includes $489,525 to run East and $593,905 to operate Lafayette.

The agreement saves the school district $200,000 in staffing for two teachers at East.

And at Lafayette, it saves the district $600,000 it would have spent to hire six teachers and $200,000 for two multilingual aides.

The district will pay approximately $1.58 million each for the partnerships with the Westminster Foundation at Highgate Heights and Research to Practice to run the School of Technology.

The three EPOS first came on board last September for the current school year. The district has already received State Improvement Grant money to help offset costs at Highgate Heights and the School of Technology, and is hoping for SIG grants to help fund the contracts at Lafayette and East high schools.

email: dswilliams@buffnews.com