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Buffalo Sees Graduation Rate Rise, Still Below State Average

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP/WBEN) - In figures released on Monday, the Buffalo Public School District saw their graduation rate jump eight percent for the class of 2013, from 48 to 56 percent.

"I want to give Pamela Brown some credit," Interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent Will Karesztes said. "She was very assertive in putting together some programs and some initiatives in place to support students. I think there was certainly a yield with that."

However, Karesztes doesn't want to get too caught up in the eight point gain. "While I'm glad the district has made some progress, it is woefully insufficient where it has landed. A 56 percent graduation rate is not what we want."

One week after being named the Interim Superintendent of Buffalo Schools, Will Karesztes says the leadership transition has been smooth.

"I think it's good in a sense where Board members have all been really supportive," Karesztes said. "My primary obligation is to provide the board and the community with a peaceful transition from one administration to another. I'm feeling like I'm able to do that."

Karesztes will hold his position until at least July 7th, when Board Member Carl Paladino says he will hold a special meeting to appoint a longer-term interim.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done and I hope I can have a voice in getting that done for our district."
Karesztes, who took over last week after former Superintendent Pamela Brown resigned, says that some creative solutions are necessary. The Interim Superintendent wants to look at bringing back a night-school program to see if that would better-serve some students.

New York's high school graduation rate rose slightly to 74.9 percent in 2013, but big differences persisted in the numbers of white and minority students graduating on time, and those from high- and low-needs districts.

The overall rate compares with 74 percent last year. Among the Big Five districts, Buffalo saw the only notable increase.
Rochester had the lowest rate, at 43 percent, followed by Syracuse, where 49 percent earned a high-school diploma.
New York City graduated 61 percent of those who entered high school in 2009 and Yonkers 66 percent.
The numbers don't fully reflect the curriculum reforms under way in New York because the class of 2013 started school before they were adopted.

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