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Buffalo School Officials Make Last Ditch Plea for Grant Funding | News

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Buffalo School Officials Make Last Ditch Plea for Grant Funding
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ALBANY, NY-Representatives from Buffalo Public Schools and the state Education Department held a hearing on Thursday to determine whether the city would receive $5.6 million in School Improvement Grants that are being withheld by the state.   

The money is being withheld by the state because the school district did not file evidence of required changes to evaluation systems by Jan. 1. Both sides argued the matter at a hearing in the State Education building in Albany.

"I cannot emphasize the fact enough that no one wants to see this happen," said Louise Decandia, an attorney for SED, in her opening statements. "However, the truth of the matter is that all school districts had long been aware of the changes in education law and corresponding regulations."

Decandia argued that the law had been put in place for two years and was done in accordance with the state's placement in Race to the Top funding in the form of a $700 million grant from the federal government.

Changes to the evaluations of teachers were a required component to receive the federal funding, Decandia said.

However, Buffalo Public Schools said the district had complied with the requirements put forth by the SED and the money being withheld was a violation of state law.

Chris Putrino, the general counsel for Buffalo Public Schools, said SED had forced minor changes on what was an already sound evaluation system that had been changed to comply with Race to the Top funding.

"SED's insistence on mere cosmetic modifications to an otherwise sound evaluation plan ... have threatened threatened Buffalo's receipt of much-needed funding," Putrino said. "Five-point-six million dollars is money a cash-strapped district needs to ensure low-achieving schools receive the resources and attention needed to better perform and meet the needs of the children they serve."

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