School board contemplates the search for next Superintendent

The Executive Affairs committee of the Buffalo School Board had a sometimes heated discussion this evening contemplating the search and selection of the next Superintendent.

The minority bloc of the school board is pushing for a national search, while the majority bloc is looking to hire a Deputy Superintendent that is capable of becoming the Superintendent upon the departure of Donald Ogilvie, who is planning on retiring ahead of the next school year. The pending search for Deputy closes this Friday.

The discussion did not progress smoothly, and board members couldn’t agree on which process to pursue. Board president James Sampson was absent from the meeting and will be the swing vote on the issue.

The minority bloc was concerned that the posting for the Deputy position made no mention of needing to satisfy qualifications of the Superintendent position.

The majority bloc is determined to select a local candidate who already has a network of relationships and understanding of the district’s institutional history — so that the executive could have a running start.

There are too many pending issues to bring an outsider in from a national search, argues board member Larry Quinn. He cites pending civil rights complaints, a serious budget shortfall, and an intensely political atmosphere as making the situation unsuitable for a national search.

“There would be too much of a learning curve for an outsider to come in and catch up, which takes an excessive amount of time — and they still lack the network of relationships to understand all of the intricacies of the district,” said board member Jay McCarthy, who chairs the Executive Affairs committee that is responsible for selecting the next leader.

Board member Carl Paladino thinks that an outsider will be beholden to whichever faction of the school board brings them to Buffalo. That situation could create continued instability in the district if the current governing bloc loses its majority in next May’s election, when six of nine members will be up.

Board member Theresa Harris-Tigg thinks that the Deputy and Superintendent positions are too different and should be conducted based on the unique requirements of each. Quinn thinks that a Superintendent would prefer to select his or her own deputy.

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