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Grading the School Board

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the School Board.

But how well are they actually doing?

Buffalo ReformED is trying to answer that question in something of a tangible way -- after every board meeting.

Report cardThe group has developed a report card that rates the board on a scale of 1 to 5, in each of six categories: attendance/preparation; meeting etiquette; staying on task/participation; parent/community engagement; committee reports; and superintendent accountability.

This week, the board earned 19 points out of a possible 30. The high points included the administration's immediate follow-up with a parent who complained that her 4-year-old daughter had been an hour and a half late getting home on the bus one day. Also worthy of kudos: an update on the superintendent search.

Low points included the fact that Amber Dixon, John Licata and Lou Petrucci seemed to be the only people using microphones -- meaning the audience cannot hear most of what happens at the board table. The lack of updates from several board committees also didn't sit well -- along with the lack of updates on plans for the persistently lowest-achieving schools and other major issues.

In addition to providing ratings and comments on the six categories, the report card breaks out which board members were at a meeting, who showed up late, what major votes were taken (and how board members voted), how long the meeting lasted, and how much time was spent in executive session.

Buffalo ReformED's director, Hannya Boulos, says the group hopes the report cards will help increase accountability and transparency in the district.

Right now, the group's staff are the only people rating the board at each meeting. Eventually, Boulos hopes to hand out blank copies of the report card to everyone who shows up to board meetings, to give the public the chance to weigh in.

- Mary Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/SchoolZoneBlog    mpasciak@buffnews.com

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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 | djgee@buffnews.com


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 | tlankes@buffnews.com


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 | stan@buffnews.com


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 | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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