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Will new board support efforts to improve struggling schools?

WBFO News file photo

Western New York Regent Representative Catherine Fisher Collins says even with a new Buffalo School Board majority, board members must stay focused to fix struggling city schools. 

"You can't just drop that because you have new people on the board. Those are the schools that need the most attention,” said Regent Collins.

Collins is referring to those city schools that are deemed struggling and placed under receivership. Collins encourages the new board members to make sure those schools are not ignored.

Credit WBFO News file photo
Regent Catherine Collins outside of Lafayette High School in Buffalo.

“So how do you not, give them attention and plus, much of the state budget has gone to schools that are struggling, creating other opportunities like our community schools, Parent Engagement office at the state level, so you can’t just drop everything because you have new people on the board,” Collins remarked. 

Receivership is pending in a court lawsuit. But in March the State Education Department moved ten of 25- struggling city schools off the receivership list. 

"I was thrilled to death because that meant there is some movement, upward, not down, so we have to be proud of that and I am certainly proud of that,” said Collins.

Current minority school board member Barbara Seals-Nevergold tells WBFO News she's hoping new members work together and collaborate with Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

“And for what he has proposed going forward in terms of his education plan, but I would also like to see the board, as an entity work more closely together. I would like us to determine what our vision plan is,” noted Seals-Nevergold. “The Board has one employee, that’s the superintendent and we have to evaluate his progress and we can’t do that, unless we as a board, understand what it is we are looking for. We have to set the goals and objectives for the superintendent and we have not been able to do that as a board.”       

The new majority members were all backed by the Buffalo Teachers Federation, but Seals-Nevergold doesn't believe it will effect board work on the teachers’ contract.

Credit WBFO News file photo
Buffalo School Board member Barbara Seals-Nevergold.

“There was no quid quo pro made with the union that backed candidates, because we look at some of the business organizations, like the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, they backed a number of candidates and no one was indicating that they wanted to take over the school district,” responded Seals-Nevergold.  

Seals Nevergold also indicated when the board restructures in July as new members take office, she would like to be considered for a leadership role.

The new line up has six-female minority members, set to become the new majority against the old majority now down to three -- Carl Paladino, Larry Quinn and Patty Pierce.

With the former board majority losing its power, some see the new leadership as removing a divide, still others predict it could be a set-back for school reform.           

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