Kriner Cash

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - – Jay Rey

Kriner Cash tells a story of a mother who re­cently reached out to say her child was ac­cepted into one of the best char­ter schools in the city, but the fam­ily de­cided to de­cline. They’re happy right where they are in the Buf­falo Pub­lic Schools.

“For me,” said Cash, the district’s su­per­in­ten­dent, “that’s a break­through.”

It’s just a small ex­am­ple in a large, com­plex district of 30,000 kids, but it’s an­other small sign Cash uses to show that the long-trou­bled school sys­tem is headed in the right di­rec­tion.

In fact, the num­ber of city schools con­sid­ered to be in good stand­ing by the state has more than dou­bled to 37 over the past three years, while the num­ber of those in jeop­ardy of be­ing shut down has dropped from 25 to three. Out­side Buf­falo, peo­ple have no­ticed, too. Cash was one of the fi­nal­ists last fall for Ur­ban Su­per­in­ten­dent of the Year, the top award among lead­ers in ur­ban ed­u­ca­tion that’s given out by the Coun­cil of the Great City Schools, a coali­tion of 70 of the na­tion’s large school dis­tricts.

Cincin­nati-bred and Prince­ton-ed­u­cated, Cash came to Buf­falo in 2015 af­ter stops in Martha’s Vine­yard, Mi­ami and Mem­phis, pro­vid­ing di­rec­tion and sta­bil­ity in a district where the su­per­in­ten­dent’s of­fice has been a re­volv­ing door.

He set high ex­pec­ta­tions and laid out for par­ents a clear, mul­ti­pronged ap­proach for re­form. That in­cluded smaller class sizes in the early grades, more op­tions in the high schools to give kids a bet­ter chance to grad­u­ate and open­ing schools af­ter hours and on week­ends to pro­vide ad­di­tional ser­vices for the need­i­est students and their fam­i­lies.

It’s no magic for­mula, Cash says, just a lot of hard work in the trenches by a lot of peo­ple across the sys­tem.

“We have to stay per­sis­tent – never let up,” Cash said. “In a large or­ga­ni­za­tion like this with so many chal­lenges, we have to be at our peak per­for­mance all the time.”

Cash, who turned 64 this month, is un­der con­tract un­til 2020, but he has ex­pressed in­ter­est in stick­ing around Buf­falo for a cou­ple more years to help the district find a suc­ces­sor and en­sure it stays on the right path.

Af­ter all, he said, the district’s progress is frag­ile and there’s still much work to be done.

But for now, Cash con­tin­ues to take it school by school, class­room by class­room.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.