Buffalo Public School Burgard High and Superintendent Dr. James Williams welcomed Governor David Paterson, Mayor Brown, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, as they celebrated the completion of Phase III of the Joint Schools Reconstruction Project.
Phase III of the project included a $138 million initiative, funding South Park in the amount of $36 million, Burgard for $35 million, International School #45 for $25 million, Lovejoy Discovery School #43 for $22 million, and Herman Badillo Bilingual School for $20 million. Other projects in Phase III, which was split into IIIa and IIIb, are currently underway. City Honors and Riverside High will be complete in August of 2010.
Phases IV and V will reconstruct the remaining Buffalo schools. In total, $1.4 billion will be spent on the schools, making this the largest reconstruction effort in Buffalo history, and one being looked at as a model by different districts around the state.
Upgrades are both structural and technological, as schools like Burgard, South Park, Hillery Park Elementary, and others are recipients of new gymnasium facilities, and Interactive Promethean Smartboards, which allow teachers and students to conduct lessons on state-of-the-art touchscreens.
“This is a very proud day for Buffalo,” said Board of Education member Pamela Cahill, “these are not your father’s Buffalo schools.”
As proof positive that initiatives in upgrading schools and their curriculums has paid off, English language arts test scores have improved by 81% and math scores have risen by 117% in the last several years.
After a short video featuring shots of the upgrades at the aforementioned schools and testimonials from teachers and students at the facilities, Dr. Williams welcomed Governor Paterson to a standing ovation.
“Government often ignores young people,” he said, “and that is going to stop. Every child deserves a good education. When you invest in young people, you invest in the future.”
Paterson also expressed his excitement in Buffalo being a sort of test-run for the rest of the state, as school officials from Syracuse, Mount Vernon, Yonkers, and Long Island have been visiting Buffalo to learn about the structural and technological upgrades at our schools.
“Kids learn better in a clean place. They can learn anywhere, and we’re proving that here in Buffalo.”
By 2013, every Buffalo public school student will be taught in a reconstructed facility.