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Business First Article

Dr. Cash

By Dan Miner  – Reporter, Buffalo Business First

Buffalo City School District Superintendent Kriner Cash has been a stable presence in a position that previously had been a turnstile.

In the meantime, he sees significant progress being made.

Cash was the school district leader in Martha’s Vineyard and Memphis before coming to Buffalo in August 2015 during a tempestuous time for the district.

He went on to implement a multifaceted New Education Bargain, which emphasizes rigorous early educational instruction, new workforce-oriented high school programs and “community schools” that host programming on nights and weekends. He also ended a 12-year contract impasse with the Buffalo Teachers Federation with the support of a union-friendly board.

Data points to progress being made. The school district maintained a 64 percent graduation rate for the past three years after posting 61, 55 and 54 percent respectively in the years before that. The number of schools targeted for shutdown by the state has decreased from 25 to three. Math and ELA proficiency rates for third- to eighth-grade state tests have shown significant improvement since Cash took over, though they still significantly lag the rest of the state.

These are important points for Cash, who wants to remain superintendent for at least a few years after his contract ends next year.

All nine school board seats are up for election this year and with a multitude of potential interests jockeying for seats, there’s no telling what priorities a new majority bloc will pursue.

Cash has a clear message: Continue to build upon the modest gains and solidify the fragile stability that has taken hold in Buffalo schools.

“The improvements are not yet deeply rooted but they are beginning to bloom,” he said. “We are showing a pathway forward on how to do this work well.” 

The conversation is incredibly important from a community standpoint, of course. The city school system is educating 31,398 students this year, making it one of the most powerful systemic forces in the region’s overall direction. Cash said the district has been trending with the region’s renaissance. He wants to stay long enough to see the graduation rate crest 70 percent and to establish a strong succession plan.

“This region has gainful employment, lots of green space and bicycle paths and affordable housing,” Cash said. “We are making sure that Buffalo schools remain good choices for families that are already here and for the new millennials who might move here.”