BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The former Pinnacle Charter School is now a part of the struggling Buffalo Public School district.
For the first time in New York State, a charter school has become a public school. Pinnacle's charter was revoked after it could not meet benchmarks it set for itself. Though it's now part of the BPS, the building, students and many teachers remain the same.
Jennifer Springer is one of about 34 former Pinnacle Charter School teachers who are now part of PS 115. The teachers know their students and most of the students have returned. Springer says the teachers are inspired to make the transition work.
"It's a group of teachers that is very passionate for the students in this area, and we stayed here through thick and thin because we love the kids, and I think that will make a big difference," she said.
The school's new principal, Dr. Kevin Eberle, had nine days to organize the opening of PS 115.
"If anybody could say they could open a school in nine days from a Labor Day to today, was probably one of the most daunting tasks," he said. "And I felt that if we could retain many of the faces, where the students coming back into the building, familiar faces, that would really help in the transition."
Eight of the teachers and aides he hired had worked in the Buffalo school system. He says the students will be carefully tracked on their academic progress to meet the new Common Core standards.
"We have to raise the bar and we have to really excel to those standards, but how we do that and the process to do that is really the key," he said.
Music teacher Cara Calabrese, also from Pinnacle, says her students will continue to express themselves through the arts. Although the music program is losing one teacher, she says certain aspects will be enhanced by the Buffalo School District.
"We're excited. There's a lot of resources that the Buffalo Public School has as a big district," she said. "For me there's a lot more professional development I can take advantage of. We're going to have access to instruments and district-wide performances."
Dr. Eberle said the transition from charter school to public school went well on the first school day. He said everyone is pulling together to make the transition work. He said there is a strong base from which to work.
"I want to blow the roof off the place and show people that we have some incredible teachers that built the foundation," he said.
He has full faith in his teachers. But many parents were angry at news Pinnacle would become part of the Buffalo Public School system.
Now that school has begun, the anger appears to have subsided, and parents seem relieved that many of the same teachers remain.
Tontalea Barnett said, "They ended up coming back, I guess because they love the students so much, and they love what they do."
"I just see a lot of happiness," Springer added. "They seem very happy to see the teachers and to see each other. We've really been a tight knit family for many years here."
Second grade student Briana Thomas had a good first day.
"I had the same people in my classroom that was in the classroom with me before," the 7-year-old said.
Robert Mooney, who was driving drunk when he caused a crash that killed his best friend, was sentenced on Wednesday to one- to three-years in prison.
When firefighters arrived at an apartment building on Orleans Street on Wednesday, they say they found a badly burned woman outside.
Buffalo Police apprehended a suspect Wednesday afternoon who allegedly stole a box truck after a home invasion.
The owners of a liquor store in Kenmore had a narrow brush with disaster Wednesday when a car hit the front of their building.
A federal judge sentenced 47-year-old Filippo Inglima of Wheatfield to 10 years behind bars for taking part in an international drug ring.
A victim of an armed robbery had to be taken to the hospital after being hit in the side of the head with what appeared to be a shotgun.