Elementary and high schools in Buffalo have been struggling to meet the city’s expectations. The number of students who graduate high school in four years hovers around 50%. Over three quarters of students are eligible for reduced lunch based on their family’s income. One solution that is being considered is public boarding schools and has been successful in other cities.
The philosophy behind this drastic solution is to keep troubled students from abject poverty by giving them more attention and keeping them away from issues at home. One of the biggest predictors of a student’s success in school is their environment at home.
Though this may seem like the perfect option for a number of students in the community it can be very expensive. The cost for one student can reach up to $25,000 a year. This is double the normal subsidy for charter school students by the state of New York, and the state would have to approve the solution.
For many of the students the environment would be much more positive and productive. Students would be provided three meals a day, clothes and even extra-curricular activities. Students at public boarding schools would return home for the weekend. This environment is meant to prepare these students for higher education, something the current school system has not been successful at doing.
The idea of public boarding schools is nothing new. Even as early as 1998, a public boarding school was opened in Washington D.C. to solve similar problems. It has been a resounding success with graduation rates that hover around 90%.
But there are a number of hurdles that these schools must go through to open their doors. Education is highly regulated, and in some states laws had to be written and passed to allow these institutions. That is without mentioning the cost. This will prove to be the biggest hurdle Buffalo will face in cash-strapped New York.