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Who will fill Jacobs' seat?

There aren't any School Board races scheduled until May 2013, but the board is about to see its third vacancy in less than a year.

With Chris Jacobs' ascent into the county clerk's post only a matter of weeks away now, it's time to consider what his victory will mean to the School Board.

Christopher JacobsBecause, despite his efforts during the campaign to ignore or downplay his role on the School Board, Jacobs has, in fact, served as an at large member for seven years -- and he has more than two and a half years remaining on his term.

What will happen to his seat?

It will be up to the remaining eight members of the board to appoint someone -- just as the board appointed someone to Vivian Evans' seat and to Pamela Cahill's seat.

A few things are noteworthy here.

This will be the third vacancy to arise in less than a year. Rosalyn Taylor took Evans' seat in January, and Sharon Belton Cottman took Cahill's seat a few months later. (Evans resigned a few months after she moved to Maryland, and Cahill resigned to run for a seat on the Common Council.)

Interesting to note is the fact that, with the appointment of Jacobs' successor, one-third of the board will not have been chosen directly by voters.

You can spin that any way you want.

Critics say the board is creating itself in its own image, and becoming less reflective of the community it represents.

Others say the vacancies are attracting a different type of person, seeing as they don't have to worry about fundraising, campaigning, or worrying about seeking endorsements from any group.

Either way, there looms the question of exactly how the board will go about filling the vacancy.

This vacancy differs slightly from the last two. Evans and Cahill both had seats representing a particular district in the city. Jacobs is an at large member, meaning he was elected by voters across the city.

It seems to be the board's prerogative to decide how they want to proceed.

Board President Lou Petrucci told me that the last time there was a vacancy in an at large seat, a board member representing a particular district moved into the at large seat. And then the board appointed someone to the district seat.

It's an important distinction.

If the board were to fill Jacobs' vacancy with a new member, that would mean any eligible candidate from anywhere in Buffalo could be considered to fill the seat.

But if the board instead moves someone like Petrucci or Mary Ruth Kapsiak into the at large seat, then the vacancy becomes one representing that person's district within the city. And the pool of candidates is pared to only those people living in that part of Buffalo.

- 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 |