Buffalo school board gets to work on transition plan

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Members of the Buffalo Board of Education Wednesday were busy laying the groundwork for a transition period, following the superintendent’s anticipated departure.

There is still no separation agreement on the table between the school board and Dr. Pamela Brown. Nor is there a date for Dr. Brown’s departure.

The purpose of Wednesday afternoon’s special meeting was to start to form a transition plan. Board President Dr. Barbara Seals-Nevergold said the goal should be to “create as stable an environment as possible” through the transition, which is likely to involve more than one leadership change.

“The issue right now is, as a contingency, are we going to have to put an acting superintendent in place to serve until the pleasure of the new board, when they feel they’ve found the right candidate?” board member John Licata said.

If Dr. Brown leaves before the new school board is seated on July 1, the current board could choose an “acting” superintendent. Barbara Smith, the district’s chief financial officer, has been named as a possibility.

“She is very capable, and I think that we should definitely use her to the best of our abilities,” board member Jason McCarthy said of Smith.

The new board could then choose an interim superintendent, to serve for one academic year, while the search for a permanent superintendent is underway.

Some members favor keeping Mary Guinn as deputy superintendent for a few more months, “to keep that day-to-day stability, so that we don’t push the district into chaos and confusion,” explained board member Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg. The last scheduled day of Guinn’s contract is June 30.

All the board members agree that permanent superintendent candidates should be more thoroughly vetted than the last time around.

“We want to make sure that person has a record of success in urban education, in transformation,” said Harris-Tigg. “We have a lot of work to do here, and it’s real critical who that leader is. So I would not expect that we would be hasty.”

“I propose that we develop a committee comprised of leaders of this community, board members, parents, teachers, all sorts of of people that have vested interests in this district. That would open it up and create a transparent process,” said McCarthy.

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