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Buffalo School Board swears in new Park District member

WBFO's Mike Desmond

The Buffalo School Board is back up to nine members, after Catherine Flanagan-Priore was sworn in as the Park District member Wednesday.

Flanagan-Priore takes over the seat vacated when Carl Paladino was removed by New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, saying he went public with information from executive sessions.

The new board member is a pediatric psychologist who works with children who have cancer or severe blood diseases at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said Flanagan-Priore brings strong qualifications to the post.

"Perspectives that enhance and augment the ones that we all have, but we bring different talents and different experiences," Seals Nevergold said. "So her experiences, again, are working with children. Children are vulnerable. We have about 15-18 percent of students in our district are special needs children."

Seals Nevergold said it will take about a year for Flanagan-Priore to really get into the depths of the job, even though she is a quick learner. The new Park District representative said it took a long conversation with her husband to decide to apply for the seat.

"It was more a conversation between my husband and myself in which he said, 'I feel like the School Board needs you, I feel like these children need you, and I feel like you have something to offer that these other people don't necessarily have to offer. And I mulled that over for about 10 days before ultimately submitting my materials to the Board of Education," said Flanagan-Priore.

Ultimately, she was "a bit surprised" to be chosen.

"Because I know that there were some previous board members who threw their names in the pot to see who would ultimately fill the seat of Mr. Paladino and, truthfully, I spoke from the heart and I talked a lot about my commitment to working with children and families and how incredibly valuable I think our children are to our community."

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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