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What, exactly, did Buffalo say yes to?

When the School Board voted to hire Say Yes to Education and Cascade Consulting to help find the next superintendent, what, exactly, did the board agree to?

Here's a copy of the full proposal from Say Yes/Cascade, for those of you who are really interested in the nitty-gritty.

(Keep in mind that this is the proposal they submitted. The board has not yet signed a contract. It's possible some of the terms could change before the board signs off on the final deal.)

Here are some of the highlights from the Say Yes/Cascade proposal:

- Cost to district: $30,000.

- Additional costs, including travel, advertising and mailing costs, estimated at $45,500. To be funded by Say Yes.

- Timeline: approximately 90 days from beginning of search to selection of superintendent.

- "The key to the success of our approach is based on acquiring a thorough understanding of the district, its culture, the community, the decision-making process of the organization and, most important, what the board and the community want the superintendent to accomplish." The consultant recommends holding a series of "extensive focus group discussions with key people and groups identified by the board," at minimum to include "discussions with each board member, appropriate central office staff, all principals, as many teachers as feasible, students, parents, business people, faith based leaders, and representatives of community groups."

- In addition, the consultants have offered to conduct online, telephone and hard-copy surveys to supplement the focus groups to give more people an opportunity to provide input.

- "We will not rely on passive recruitment... Depending on the skills needed by the district at this time, we may place additional [ads] in professional publications outside education, or in other places not typically used in educational searches. We make a special effort and have had considerable success in recruiting a diverse pool of candidates who fairly represent the diversity of the district and the community served."

- "Cascade Consulting Group utilizes a unique, tested, and independent assessment tool that will provide the board with objective information about the final candidates. The DISC Behavioral Assessment was developed nearly 30 years ago and has been continually updated and validated over the years. Widely used in the private sector, it provides critical information on how individuals will behave on the job (particularly under stress), what motivates them, their values, the kind of work environment they prefer, and how best to communicate and work with them. This critical information will allow the board to make an informed decision about, and then work effectively with, the selected candidate."

- "Through broad-based outreach and engagement strategies, Cascade makes a special effort to ensure that its search process provides equal opportunities for women and minorities."

- After the application deadline, Cascade/Say Yes will review applications to screen for minimum qualifications. "A second review of applications will include telephone and in-person discussions with viable applicants, a careful review of academic and professional credentials, and a review of background information provided by the candidate. Based on this information, we will meet with the school board in executive session and recommend a list of candidates for additional consideration.

"During this meeting with the board, we will seek authorization to travel to candidates' work or home locations for comprehensive interviews lasting one to three hours. We believe this is an essential aspect of the search process... Personal, in-depth interviews with the candidates provide the opportunity to explore other important considerations, such as personal presentation and oral communication styles, and more substantive areas, such as intelligence, integrity, motivation, and character."

- Once "a sufficient applicant pool" is established, "if desired by the Board of Education, Say Yes will facilitate the establishment of a superintendent selection advisory group composed of exceptional individuals from diverse sectors of the community. Final selection of committee members will be the responsibility of the board of education."

- "Committee members will review all applications and, in cooperation with us, will select up to 12 candidates from the pool as semifinalists. Next, we will conduct preliminary interviews with these candidates in their home locations to make certain they meet the established criteria. The results of these interviews will be shared with the committee, and based on this information the committee will recommend (two to four) final candidates to the board of education to interview."

- Cascade guarantees that "in the unlikely event that a selected candidate resigns or is terminated for cause within one year from date of hire, it will conduct a replacement search at no charge, other than direct expenses related to the search."

- "Say Yes to Education and Cascade know that leadership counts, but not any leadership. It must be based on the unique needs and characteristics of the district. The focus of this work is matching the skills, talents, and backgrounds of candidates to the districts. As a result, the candidates it helps to place in districts tend to have a longer tenure than others.

"In addition to work with school districts, Cascade has been selected by various educational foundations to collaborate on the important work of supporting reform efforts throughout the country. During the last several years, Cascade has worked with (1) the Stupski Foundation to identify people who could work with school districts across the country to improve student performance; (2) the Broad Foundation to train aspiring traditional and nontraditional candidates to serve as effective urban superintendents; and (3) the Galef Foundation in Los Angeles."

- 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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