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Supt. Brown ramping up public and media outreach efforts

So this is interesting. Supt. Pamela Brown announced Wednesday that she will begin holding weekly briefings with the media, starting today at noon. She's billing it as "the first in a series of talks to update the public about the ongoing developments occurring in the Buffalo Public Schools."

In addition, she spent considerable time in her opening remarks to the School Board on Wednesday updating the board and public about the many ways she's reaching out to parents and the community. Unlike her usual opening remarks, where she stays seated at the board table, she got up and walked around to the speaker's lectern and took the board and the rest of the audience through a nine-slide PowerPoint presentation (see below).

The last two slides she showed are part her new "myth busting" campaign called "Just the Facts." For this first "Just the Facts" effort, she said she was dispelling the "myth" that the district has failed in its efforts to successfully submit school improvement applications to the State Education Department.

The last slide, which is actually a nice graphic representation, shows how the district has competed for and been awarded a number school improvement grants. In fact, the district indicates, 18 school improvement grant applications have been successfully approved since 2010-11. (Some of these applications were not approved on the first attempt and required technical assistance from the state.) Also shown is the fact that 10 school grant applications -- worth about $4 million each -- were denied.

In The Buffalo News' lengthy profile of Brown on Sunday, critics of the superintendent cited her isolated decision-making practices and her failure to communicate and reach out the community and district stakeholders to improve schools for the better. Her reputation for inaccessibility is long standing.

It appears she's making some changes based on those comments. After the board meeting, I asked Brown what topics she plans on discussing at her noon media briefing. She said she's still working on that.

We look forward to attending these weekly press briefings and hope they'll be worthwhile. Unlike past press conferences, we hope she'll have handouts and that those documents will be easy for the public to understand. We also hope that down the road, she might be able to give us a head's up on what she plans on discussing so we can do some homework on our end.

And if she's going to continue her myth-busting campaign, we hope she'll share that information with us in advance so we can take a look and share it with you with you sooner. 

Below is the superintendent's PowerPoint presentation from the Wednesday board meeting.

-- Sandra Tan

Supt. Brown's 1-22-14 presentation

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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 |