Newly appointed Superintendent Donald Ogilvie discusses his role

Shortly after he was elected as Buffalo’s next Interim Superintendent, Donald Ogilvie fielded a range of questions from local media outlets, where he explained his general views on education, his management style, and the current state of the Buffalo Public Schools.

Selected by the Board’s “New Majority” of hard charging reformers, Ogilvie seems to be positioning himself as the agent charged with bringing the board’s polarized factions together.

“The first thing I have to do is to bring down the temperature,” Ogilvie explained in the measured, conciliatory, and careful tone for which he becoming known.

When asked if his management style is more similar or dissimilar to that of Michelle Rhee, the former DC Schools Chancellor who pushed management reforms relentlessly but whose short tenure stirred national controversy, his answer was quite politic for a man tasked with turning around a dysfunctional system:

“Michelle Rhee has an aura around her that’s different than my aura,” Ogilvie said. “To the extent that there are similarities, they are defined by a complete commitment to public schools.”

The answer was short, but revealing. Ogilvie has clearly studied Rhee’s tenure, and decidedly avoided endorsing her, despite being heralded by education reform advocates nationally. I would expect that members of the New Majority, who hired Ogilvie, would have an unyieldingly positive opinion of Rhee.

When asked what his first task will be, Ogilvie explained that “there is no one single task, but a multi-pronged set of objectives that will be pursued simultaneously.”

Ogilvie even responded to the criticism that he lacks urban experience.

“BOCES is a regional service provider. Beyond the programs at East and Lafayette high schools, which we’ve implemented last year, our first ring suburbs are changing as well. Lackawanna also has long been part of BOCES,” he explains.

When asked about the contentious situation on the school board, Ogilvie notes his record of brining people together. He said he has extensive experience interacting with school boards, and has served as a Superintendent for over 30 years. He has never met a board member with whom he couldn’t work.

Mr. Ogilvie’s contract has been made available: Donald A_ Ogilvie001.

 

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