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Who does Amber Dixon trust?

This week, when Amber Dixon headed to Saratoga Springs for a superintendents' conference, she had to designate someone to leave in charge of the district while she was gone.

Smith Her choice: Barb Smith, the CFO.

"You have to look at who you rely on," Dixon said. "I made the choice I was most comfortable with for the district."

In other words, she apparently wasn't comfortable with any of the people her predecessor tended to rely on.

When former Superintendent James Williams left Buffalo, three people seemed most frequently tapped to fill in for him: former Deputy Superintendent Folasade Oladele, Lead Community Superintendent Mark Frazier, and Associate Superintendent Will Keresztes.

Oladele, of course, wasn't an option for Dixon, seeing as she left town a year before her contract ended.

Frazier seems to be under something of a cloud until the district wraps up its investigation into Debbie Buckley's situation, among other things.

And Keresztes was the only other candidate besides Dixon to step forward to apply for the interim superintendency. He also has a history that includes a month-long suspension related to a cheating scandal several years ago in the school where he was principal. (Keresztes is quick to note that a district investigation found he was not responsible for the cheating, or even aware of it.)

Will Dixon's choice of Smith as acting superintendent prove to be significant in the long run?

We should find out in the next several weeks.

Dixon has said we should start to see some changes in central office before the end of 2011.

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |