BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The State Education Department is demanding the Buffalo School District set specific goals to turn around East and Lafayette High Schools and to spell out in their plans how those goals will be achieved.
So far, the state has rejected the district's proposed contracts to have Johns Hopkins University take over the high schools, plans that also offer students an opportunity to attend BOCES classes.
News 4 has learned BOCES has 282 seats available for students from both schools, but would create more seats if necessary. Students would have 20 separate vocational courses available to choose from, ranging from auto collision repair to TV and sound production.
Revisions to the plans must be approved by Albany to avoid an even deeper crisis when school begins in about two weeks.
School Board member Jim Sampson said, "You get a sense that this is probably the last time we'll have a kick at this."
News 4 has obtained the new goals and benchmarks that are now being presented to the State Education Department, just two weeks before school begins.
The first is a 12 percent increase in graduation rates by reducing the 9th grade class size, personalizing instruction and academic support, providing the same teachers to students as they progress through high school, and better preparing students for the State Regents Exams. There will be special attention given to low achieving students.
Dr. Tamara Branch of John Hopkins University said, "The teachers will be meeting twice within a six day cycle to discuss the student's progress."
Another goal: Johns Hopkins and BOCES hope to boost the attendance rates at the schools to 95 percent by providing early warning indicators for at-risk students and providing family counseling and access to community resources.
"Many of the students don't have the learning environment at home to do their homework," Dr. Branch said.
And there will be a push to reduce out of school suspensions by 50 percent, addressing behavioral problems before they get out of hand, and using in-house suspensions requiring study time.
Dr. Branch added, "These are proposals. This is a living document that we will be held accountable to carrying out."
On Friday, Dr. Branch along with BOCES officials and Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown will go to Albany and meet with high ranking State Education officials.
Currently, about one of every four students graduate from Lafayette and East.
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