Buffalo Public Schools serves approximately 47,000 students in Buffalo, New York, the second largest city in the state of New York. It is located in Erie County of western New York and operates nearly 70 facilities.
The Buffalo Public School System was started in 1838, 13 years after the completion of the Erie Canal and only 6 years after the 1832 incorporation of the City of Buffalo. Buffalo was the first city in the state of New York to have a free public education system supported by local taxes. Although New York City had a free public education system prior to 1838, NYC obtained additional funding through private donations and sources.
Buffalo Public School's first Superintendent of Schools, Oliver Gray Steele (1805–1879), was a prominent and successful business man. Originally from Connecticut, Steele relocated to Buffalo in 1827. He held three different terms as Superintendent between 1838 and 1852, during which twelve new elementary facilities were built, bringing the total to 15 elementary buildings. A building for a dedicated high school was also purchased during this time. Steele is credited as being the "Father of the Public Schools of Buffalo" as his reorganization of the schools in Buffalo enabled children to have access to a free public education. Over 35 people have held the position of Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools since that time. The Buffalo School Board voted in 2012 to appoint Pamela Brown, Superintendent of the Buffalo School District. Brown replaced interim superintendent Amber Dixon, who had replaced James Williams, who had retired.
The Board of Education of the Buffalo City School District is the policy-making body for the Buffalo Public Schools, as provided by the Constitution of the State of New York, and is under the general supervision of the New York State Education Department. The board consists of 9 members elected by popular vote of District residents.
The Buffalo Public School System boasts the best academically performing high school in Western New York, the City Honors School at Fosdick-Masten Park, which is recognized as one of the best high schools in the United States. The school was recently ranked as the 11th best school in Newsweek Magazine's 2008 list of "America's Best High Schools". Originally built in 1912 as Masten Park High School, it sits atop the foundation of the original school that was built in 1895, but was destroyed by a fire in 1912. The name was changed in 1927 to Fosdick-Masten Park High School in honor of the first principal Frank Fosdick. The building was used as a girls vocational school from 1953 until 1980 when the City Honors School was moved from P.S. 17 on Main Street over to the current location. City Honors was founded in 1975 for academically gifted and talented high school students, however now accepts students from grades 5- 12.
Buffalo Public Schools has an extensive athletic program. Students can participate in football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, cross-country, track and field, bowling, swimming, volleyball, ice hockey and rugby.