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Short Buffalo school board meeting = short recap and one complaint

Last night's Buffalo school board meeting may have been the shortest regular meeting on record since the new board was seated in July. It was 2 1/2 hours long and included a list of only four speakers. There were so few speakers that one of the few people who did get up to speak erroneously accused the board of changing its speaker policy.

If you want the nitty gritty, see the prior post that includes the live blog of the entire meeting. But if you want the summary of important stuff, here it is:

  • The board approved a resolution by board member John Licata that halfway through the school year (shortly after the end of the second marking period), Superintendent Brown must provide the board an update on her central office reorganization. That report must identify all the positives and negatives associated with her new organizational structure, which is supposed to provide more direct and immediate support to schools through a "one-stop shop" model. The report must also detail how the district solicited input from principals and staff to improve the one-stop shop model.
  • Board member Jason McCarthy introduced a resolution to try and move the district into compliance with state's requirements regarding physical education. His resolution would require Brown to provide a plan by Nov. 20 for the hiring of more phys ed teachers to assure the district's complaince with state requirements and local district health and wellness policies. That resolution was refer to the Student Support Services Committee.
  • Board member Carl Paladino attempted to move resolutions to have board president Barbara Nevergold removed as president, and to have board member Sharon Belton-Cottman reprimanded for her behavior toward him. Neither resolution got a second. He also introduced a resolution to have the full line-item budget shared with the board and submitted for their approval. That resolution was referred to the Finance and Operations Committee. Currently, board members approve the $800+ million budget by looking at top-line departmental funding totals only.

Now, for the complaint. Despite the transparency resolution submitted and approved by the school board in September to post all board resolutions and all other supplemental and non-confidential material on the district's website prior to regular board meetings, this is still not regularly happening.

During each of the last two regular board meetings, it's taken complaints by the Buffalo News to get board member resolutions posted as part of the agenda packet. This week, after I made calls and sent  emails about missing board member resolutions, the district tacked Licata's resolution to the end of the board packet and omitted all of Paladino's.

What happened Wednesday night is what typically happens when board member items are not properly listed on the agenda. President Nevergold essentially asks if board members have any resolutions and what they are (in this case, there were several old ones from unfinished business and one new one from McCarthy). Board members hopefully, but not always, keep track of their own resolutions but the rest of the board, including the president, often has no idea exactly what's coming up. Last night, I wound up passing a note to a board member who seemed to have forgotten he had an outstanding resolution lingering from two weeks ago.

Reporters don't know all the resolutions coming up for discussion unless we take the time to call board members in advance, have strong memories, or board members are proactive in reaching out to us. There's no reason for board member resolutions to be such a great mystery. President Nevergold said she agrees and will talk with staff about ensuring that these resolutions are properly posted on board agendas in the future. We hope she gets farther than we have.

-- Sandra Tan

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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