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Concerned Clergy Coalition calls for national superintendent search

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York is calling for a national search for a new city schools superintendent. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley reports it's one of two demands the coalition is requesting. 

Members of the Concerned Clergy Coalition stood on the steps of Buffalo's City Hall Tuesday demanding the district conduct a nationwide search for a new school leader.

"We need to have a national search to get the best possible candidate that we can get for a Buffalo Public School system," said Rev. Mark Blue with Baptist Minister's Conference of Buffalo and Vicinity.

"I'm sick and tired of those who really don't care and just think this is a business without giving the public the opportunity to have their voices heard," said Rev. Blue.

The current search for a deputy superintendent, who could than replace interim superintendent Donald Ogilvie as the next school leader, has centered around local candidates.

Minority School board Barbara Seals Nevergold joined the Coalition's announcement, but she said now some board members are in another battle. She says she wants to hold public meetings next week to discuss the superintendent search, but the board's majority is denying the use of school buildings.

"This is extremely unprecedented," said Seals Nevergold. "That has never happened. We had a community meeting with Mr. Ogilvie and there was no vote for that."

Coalition members are also demanding the district restore funding for summer school for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. 

"It's our money. It's taxpayer money. We put the money in the budget. We pay the taxes," stated Rev. Blue.

The district cited poor attendance and a failure to boost academics as a reason for cutting the program.  The Coalition fears low-income students need will lose learning momentum without summer school help.

"What happens in the Buffalo Public Schools impacts our entire region -- that's why a Pastor from Clarence is standing here," said  Rev. Vicki Zust, Pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Clarence. Rev. Zust joined urban coalition members in their plea to the school district and board members.