A public high school in a city that is famous for its high school basketball tournament, high-end sports facilities and a basketball stadium that’s a national landmark will receive $10 million in renovations to make it more accessible for students with disabilities.
Buffalo Public Schools has been struggling with rising enrollment, and the school board has approved $1.3 million in spending over the next four years to renovate the school.
The school board will begin its final two-year budgeting process in February, and board members said they will use the money to improve and expand the school gym, a swimming pool and a gymnasium, among other facilities.
The renovations are part of a $2.9 billion budget that has not been approved by the state Legislature, which means there is little chance of a legislative approval.
But the project is likely to get support from the state’s top lawmakers, who have expressed concerns about the school’s budget and enrollment.
The state will also use the funds to create a new center to house a specialized team of teachers to help students with learning disabilities.
“It is very much a priority for us to help all students get the education they need, and this is one way to do that,” Assemblyman Richard Codey, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“We are proud of what we have achieved in Buffalo Public Schools, and we look forward to continuing to work with the board to make this a priority.”
Buffalo’s public school district has struggled with declining enrollment and the death of its coach, Jim Moritz, in January, and it was awarded a $3.8 million renovation plan to keep the district on track to meet its goals for increasing enrollment.
Buffalonians are used to seeing public schools in a state with a $30 billion budget deficit, but they will be hoping the new project can help save the district money.
“There is nothing like this that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” said Bill Waggoner, executive director of the state Department of Education.
“This is a significant investment in the district’s future, and to me, that’s what this is all about.”
Buffalonias top school board approved the $1 million funding package in the spring, but the district still needs to go through its final budgeting, and state lawmakers will be able to weigh in later this year.
The $10m renovation project will include:A gymnasial for the basketball team, a water park, a tennis court and an outdoor track.
The district will also make a decision on whether to hire a new superintendent, but will start with the top three leaders.
Waggoner said the district is in a unique situation because the state is already giving $4 million annually in funding for the school district.
“We have the highest spending in the state of New York, and yet we have not been able to make our own decisions about the budget and our own staff,” Waggerson said.
“What the state has to do is to figure out how to give us that extra money and we’re looking forward to working with the Buffalo Public School Board and the superintendent to see what happens next.”