When Ferry District rep Pamela Cahill submitted a resolution on Wednesday to downsize the board from nine to six members, the other eight members were quick to vote no.
As some of her colleagues pointed out, there were serious problems with Cahill's resolution, including the fact that a school board needs an odd number of members -- and the fact that her proposed solution for tie votes, having a student cast the deciding vote, is not condoned by state law. Some on the board, including Lou Petrucci and Chris Jacobs, tried unsuccessfully to convince Cahill to send the matter back to committee, in part so she could work out some of the flaws with the resolution.
In the end, it's hard to know how many of those eight "no" votes represented out-and-out opposition to the concept of downsizing, and how many were a reflection of the problems woven into Cahill's specific resolution.
So let's say there were a resolution to downsize the board from nine to seven members.
The advantages, according to Cahill: The $5,000 for each board member's stipend, plus other money spent on cell phones, travel, etc., could be spent on services for students. And with a shrinking district that's lost 7,000 students in the past decade, as well as scores of staff, maybe nine members are no longer necessary.
The disadvantages, according to other board members: At a time when Buffalo schools are in dire fiscal straits, the students need as much representation as possible. And saving a few thousand dollars is insignificant in a district budget of about $950 million, once you include all the grants.
How would you vote?
- Mary Pasciak