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How many exempts will be left on Dixon's staff?

Plenty of people are wondering when Amber Dixon will start cutting exempt administrators -- and how many she will cut.

Let me tell you what I know.

You might recall that her predecessor, James Williams, more than doubled the size of the non-union central office staff during his six years in Buffalo -- from 13 to 28 exempt positions.

Dixon says she is in the process of trimming that number.

Amber Dixon2"By January, we will look different," she said. "I'm looking at under 20. But I can't promise."

Let's take a look at the numbers.

In the past few months, two exempt employees in human resources -- Faren Gault Wilson and Kara Murphy -- left the district. They will not be replaced, Dixon told me. "We used those funds to increase clerical staff in the office," she said.

So now we're down to 26 exempt positions.

And we can subtract one more, because Dixon's former position -- executive director for evaluation, accountability and project initiatives -- will be left vacant while she's interim superintendent. Per her contract, she gets to return to that job once she's done serving as interim.

Down to 25 exempts.

Earlier in the year, Alexander Collichio left the legal department, and Brendan Kelleher's last day as general counsel will be in mid-November. At one point, Dixon said she would look at whether the district needs a legal department at all -- or whether it can rely on the city's corporation counsel.

Well, she has decided to keep the legal department.

"There needs to be legal advice for the board of education and the district, in-house," she said. "Corporation counsel has their hands full with a lot of other things. I think we need a legal office. That's a decision I've come to."

So we're at 25 and holding, so far.

Folasade OladeleFormer Deputy Superintendent Folasade Oladele will be replaced by a chief academic officer. Currently, five candidates are being interviewed in a first round. Dixon says she hopes to name someone to that position in about a week.

Once that happens, she will move on to interviewing candidates for the vacant position for executive director of human resources.

Still at 25.

Dixon says she is taking steps behind the scenes to continue trimming the exempt staff.

"I'm trying to treat people respectfully -- I'm trying to look organizationally and see if there are other postings in other positions people may want to apply for," she said. "I made movement this week in several cases. Exactly what it means, I can't say yet. What I told you is that by January, we will look different. And I stand by that."

- 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 |