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November 9, 2015
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JP O’Hare or Jeanne Beattie

(518) 474-1201


Commissioner MaryEllen Elia Imposes Receivership Collective Bargaining Agreement in Buffalo’s Persistently Struggling Schools

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia today announced she has imposed a receivership collective bargaining agreement at five Persistently Struggling schools in the Buffalo City School District.  Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash sent Elia a request for resolution when negotiations with the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) stalled.

“Students at these Persistently Struggling schools need help right now,” said Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.  “The receivership law gives the superintendent enhanced authority in order to maintain local control while facilitating rapid improvement in student outcomes.  This receivership collective bargaining agreement will, among other things, enable Dr. Cash to more effectively utilize and deploy effective teachers and make changes to programs and teaching assignments – all of which will ensure that students in these struggling schools are provided with increased educational opportunities.”

As authorized under the receivership law, Dr. Cash recently initiated negotiations with the BTF for a receivership collective bargaining agreement with respect to the five Persistently Struggling schools in the district.  They are: West Hertel Elementary School, South Park High School, Marva J. Daniel Futures Prep School, Burgard Vocational High School, and Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (BEST).  Cash sought to negotiate 10 proposals with the BTF to provide the superintendent receiver with increased authority over the five schools, including the authority to increase the length of school year and school day at the Persistently Struggling schools; change those schools’ start and end times; involuntarily transfer teachers out of the Persistently Struggling schools; and fill vacancies at those schools through transfers.  Educators would be compensated for the extra school hours.

In her decision, Elia imposes Cash’s proposals, but with significant modifications based on her review of parties’ positions and the record, including collective bargaining principles, the parties’ existing collective bargaining agreement, and the best interests of the students in the Persistently Struggling schools as well as the students in the district as a whole.

Dr. Cash, with his team, and members of the BTF met on numerous occasions but were unable to reach agreement within the 30 days required by law.  Under Education Law §211-f(8)(b), the remaining unresolved issues were submitted to the Commissioner for resolution. 

In April 2015, the legislature and governor created a new section of State Education Law pertaining to school receivership.  In June, the Board of Regents first approved new regulations to implement the provisions of the law.

Struggling Schools are defined as schools that have been identified since 2012-13 as Priority Schools (i.e., among the lowest performing five percent of schools in the state).  Priority Schools that have been in the most severe accountability status since the 2006-07 school year have been identified as Persistently Struggling Schools.

In the 21 schools identified statewide as Persistently Struggling, the superintendent is given an initial one-year period as the receiver and can use the enhanced authority to make demonstrable improvement on indicators, including student performance, some of which are selected by the Commissioner and others selected by the superintendent receiver, with input from the Community Engagement Team, and approved by the Commissioner. If after reviewing 2015-16 school year results, the Commissioner determines that demonstrable improvement has not been made, the Commissioner may direct the school board to appoint an independent receiver within 60 days.  The Commissioner will work closely with the school board to ensure that the most qualified individual is identified and the appointment of all independent receivers must be approved by the Commissioner.  Additionally, each Persistently Struggling school is eligible to receive a portion of $75 million in grant funds to support and implement turnaround efforts over a two-year period. 

More information on school receivership can be found at:

The Commissioner’s full decision can be found at:

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