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Interim schools leader responds to talk of mayoral control

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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"I think it would have to begin with some opportunity for the public to be heard and not some individuals cloistered in a room, and there will be some strong opinions," noted Interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent Don Ogilvie.

Interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent Don Ogilvie said he was 'mildly surprised' when learning Mayor Byron Brown would be willing to take over the district if given the power. 

Siting at a conference table in a 7th floor room at City Hall Monday  afternoon, reporters question Ogilvie about the prospect of mayoral control.  "His perspective is the well-being of the city and that would include the schools," said Ogilvie. 

Ogilvie noted New York City and Yonkers have already explored their own models. "It's not completely unheard of," stated Ogilvie. 

"What it does is stresses the fact that these are very local circumstances that call this model into question, and I think Buffalo may represent that. We have many competing interests and points of view that need to be reconciled," said Ogilvie.

When asked by WBFO if Ogilvie thought there was political motivation, the interim leader did not want to speculate. 

"I wouldn't want to speculate about what had cause to him share that perspective yesterday," said Oglivie.  A Buffalo News article Sunday stated that Mayor would be ready to take over if there was a state approval. 

WBFO News asked Mayor Brown about a mayoral take over in late February. 

"It there is going to be any kind of takeover, I would certainly be more in favor of a mayoral takeover," said Mayor Byron Brown.

"Although I don't think takeover is the right word. I think we have to build consensus. We have to work together, we have to cooperate with each other, so my goal would not to be to take anything over -- my goal would be to more consensus to get people working more closely with each other," said Brown.

"He recognizes -- and this is a positive thing -- that the future of the Buffalo Public Schools and the future of the city of Buffalo go hand and hand," said Ogilvie. 

But Ogivlie did speculate that perhaps the recent announcement of his future department and some other top school district officials who will be stepping down by July first forced the Mayor to consider the option.  Chief Financial Officer Barbara Smith and recently named Chief Academic Officer Linda Simmons will also be leaving at the end of the school year.

Ogilvie said there will be a lot of strong opinions on the topic. He says the public should be given a chance to voice their views on mayoral control.

"I think it would have to begin with some opportunity for the public to be heard and not some individuals cloistered in a room, and there will be some strong opinions," noted Ogilvie.

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