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Community forums on superintendent search set for Thursday

Cascade Consulting, the group the School Board hired to find the next superintendent, has scheduled two forums to gather community input.

Both forums will be at 6 p.m. Thursday (March 1).

One is at Waterfront Elementary, 95 Fourth St. The other is at Hamlin Park School 74, 126 Donaldson Road.

Cascade and its partner in the search, Say Yes to Education, have emphasized to the board the importance of gathering community input in the process. They have planned a series of focus groups with various constituencies -- identified by the board -- in addition to the two general community forums.

Those who remember the last search, which resulted in James Williams' appointment, note that any attempts to gather community input will exceed any such efforts (basically, none) along that line during that search.

However, the particulars of the two community forums are also drawing criticism.

For one thing, some people I've heard from say that two forums are hardly enough, given the size of the city.

Beyond that, one of the locations -- Waterfront -- is one of the district's favorite sites for community meetings. It's also one of the most inaccessible via public transportation, which is what many Buffalo families rely on.

Both forums are scheduled for the same time on the same day -- meaning that anyone who might want to attend, but works an evening shift or is busy with their children in the evenings, would not be able to.

And finally, some people point out, the forums were announced just two days before they were scheduled to be held.

"So much for community input," one community activist wryly said to me.

- 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 |