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Buffalo School Board majority remains intact

WBFO's Mike Desmond

The Buffalo School Board finished the school year with a six-day hearing in Albany over whether Carl Paladino should be removed from the board. It opened the new year by re-electing officers and getting into Paladino's fight.

Despite the developer's efforts to get a supporter into one of the top board positions, Barbara Seals Nevergold was re-elected President and Sharon Belton Cottman was re-elected Vice President for Executive Affairs. Theresa Harris-Tigg was re-elected Vice President for Student Achievement.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond
Barbara Seals Nevergold was re-elected Buffalo School Board President at Wednesday's meeting.

Then the board got into its first fight of the year: over how open its annual evaluation of Superintendent Kriner Cash should be. General Counsel Nathaniel Kuzma was directed to find out what state law says about openness and Cash said he will have a lawyer present when the meeting is held.

Seals Nevergold said someone leaked last year's evaluation.

"Last year, someone on the board leaked the evaluation to the press, that individual members gave," she said. "And if you want to go back and take a look at the Buffalo News article, you'll see that Mrs. Belton-Cottman and myself, particularly, were singled out for giving very, I guess, harsh evaluations."

Then action moved to the hall outside the board room, where Paladino said there is only one solution to resolve the feuding board.

"I think this board has to go," he said. "I think this whole board should all resign or get discharged, okay, and bring in a special master to run this program here in Buffalo."

Should the whole board be disbanded, reporters asked? Would that include yourself?

"Yes," Paladino said. "Everybody. Everybody should go."

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond
Park District School Board Member Carl Paladino was unsuccessful in getting a supporter elected to the board's top posts.

That might happen to some degree if New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia decides to respond to the board majority by removing the controversial businessman. In the meantime, the board opens its new year arguing, while statistics actually say good things are happening in the classrooms and the schools.

"If the commissioner makes a decision, wanting to leave one board member on who's really a very disruptive voice, it's going to be difficult for us to get things done," said Seals Nevergold. "But if you look at this past year, I would say it's been a very eventful year in terms of positives."

She described Paladino's comments about removing the entire board as "ranting and raving."

On a related note, Seals Nevergold also was elected Vice Chair of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts on July 5. The Conference is a membership organization advocating for New York’s urban school systems, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Yonkers and New York City, which make up 45 percent of the state’s public schoolchildren.

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.
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