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City school search for new leader underway

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Buffalo Board of Education

The search for a new Buffalo schools superintendent is heating up with public meetings to let citizens talk about the qualities of who should eventually sit in the City Hall office.

Mike Desmond was at a meeting last night in Hamlin Park School 74.

The school board hopes to have a superintendent in place by summer and has Cascade Consulting Group doing the search.

That Seattle-based firm is promising 60-meetings in the process, including talking to students about the superintendent's job.

Thursday evening, there were meetings in Waterfront Elementary School and School 74.

The meeting covered a lot of ground, some about the search and some about the problems of the school district from absenteeism to not enough text books.

Jackie Jones says a mostly-minority district needs more minority staff members. 

“We have agencies that are working in collaboration with the school district.  What are they doing? There is no evidence it is working,” said Jones.  "A lot of our kids don’t see people in the schools that look like them."

That was an issue with several speakers at the meeting.

Mostly they wanted a new superintendent who can confront the district's academic problems like a high drop-out rate and high absenteeism.

For school board Member Florence Johnson, this isn't her first superintendent search.

"We do want someone who is high caliber.  We raise the bar for the students, we raised the bar for teachers," said Johnson.

Johnson said the district needs someone who knows how to improve schools.

Whoever is chosen will have to work through the mesh of state and federal regulations and tests with a budget carrying a large deficit.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.