The Conference of Big 5 School Districts was founded as a membership organization representing the school systems of New York State’s five largest cities of Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Our organization has expanded to include Affiliate Members that are other urban districts with comparable student demographics and local fiscal capacity issues. The first Affiliate Member is Utica. Our membership, much like our school systems, is inclusive, diverse and expanding. While the large city school board members and New York City’s Chancellor govern the organization, the chief school officers and district staff are an integral component in the advancement of the goals of the Conference.
The Conference of Big 5 School Districts was founded for the purpose of identifying both the common and unique problems of the large city school districts and to advance solutions to such problems. Central to our uniqueness is the diversity among the students we serve, the high concentrations of poverty in which they live, and the fiscal constraints imposed on us to meet their educational needs.
The Conference of Big 5 School Districts seeks to promote a more equitable and adequate funding system and the delivery of a high quality education to all children. Our belief is that all children can succeed and should be afforded appropriate support and educational opportunities throughout their lives.
Our mission is accomplished by a strong advocacy and public information campaign representing the needs of our urban education systems. Advocacy efforts include representation before all appropriate governmental entities as a proactive organization presenting budget initiatives and policy recommendations and reactive in analyzing and responding to various proposals.
In carrying out our mission, the Conference of Big 5 School Districts also acts as a public relations center communicating with State and local media and networking with other advocacy organizations in the promotion of urban school districts. We maintain a data information center for collection and dissemination of information on the large city school districts and other urban school districts and act as a research center conducting fiscal and programmatic analyses and reporting on urban education issues.
For 56 years, representatives of the five large city school districts of Buffalo, New York, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers have been working together through the organization of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts to speak with one voice on the needs and strengths of urban education in New York State. In 2014, the Conference of Big 5 School Districts permitted other urban districts to affiliate, expanding the organization’s reach and facilitating stronger advocacy for urban students.