BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As we get closer to winter, the Buffalo School District is proposing schools to be used as emergency shelters in weather disasters like in last year’s deadly blizzard.
But, this isn’t in Buffalo’s snow plan — so how would it actually happen?
BPS Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams wants designated school buildings to be used as emergency warming shelters. But first, the superintendent needs to get approval from the school board to negotiate with the city on this.
In a resolution to the board of education, Williams says school buildings are required to have emergency power and strong heating and cooling systems — indicating that schools are an ideal place to operate emergency shelters.
But, before any of this happens, legal agreements would need to be reached between the city and the district and the superintendent wants approval from the board to be able to negotiate with the city. News 4 heard from one school board member who says this should’ve been done years ago.
“This is years of neglectful planning by city officials and also area government about how we can address blizzards here in the City of Buffalo and the safety of our stakeholders it should’ve been addresses in the 1970s after the great blizzard,” said Buffalo School Board member Terrance Heard.
If this resolution is approved, the district would also be able to negotiate with the city on figuring out whether school parking lots can be used for public parking, in an effort to help DPW crews clear streets.
Right now, the city has nine designated emergency-warming shelters in select areas. Many residents at a city council meeting last week said that is not enough. Williams plans to submit this resolution during Wednesday’s school board meeting at School 61.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.