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Education Commissioner King: Without improvements ".. We have to continue to intervene"

(WBEN)  New York State Education Commissioner John King says that the possibility of a state takeover of Buffalo Schools, with a control board type mechanism, is still In the back of his mind  and that further intervention is likely.

"The bottom line for the Board of Regents, for the department is, unless the outcomes improve we have to continue to intervene," King said in an exclusive interview with WBEN's John Zach and Susan Rose on Buffalo's Early News.

Exclusive WBEN Audio
from Buffalo's Early News

HEAR Commissioner John King in an extended conversation with WBEN's  John Zach & Susan Rose

In a wide ranging interview, King said the Board of Regents has submitted legislation that would allow a possible state takeover of the schools, with a model similar to the fiscal control boards that were used in the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  

King did not say that such a move is imminent, but when asked if it was "in the back of his mind," he replied "Certainly"

King said that determining a new way to have the district be governed- by a control board, a mayor with new oversight powers, or a more effective board -- is secondary to having better leadership. 

"Obviously the board has to make a judgement about the performance of the superintendent and the structure of their administrative team,"  King said.

And while he wouldn't weigh in specifically about whether the Buffalo Board of Education should retain Supt. Pamela Brown, he expressed frequent disappointment with the way the district is run.

Hear the interview above or read highlights below.

"There ought to be a lot of urgency on the part of the board to figure out how to make the central office more effective," 

-- NYS Education Commissioner John King
on Buffalo's Board of Education and the adminstration of Supt. Pamela Brown

Highlights of the Commissioner's remarks:

On Superintendent Pamela Brown:

"There ought to be a lot of urgency on the part of the board to make her office a lot more effective" King says.

 King deferred on making any comments about Brown's competency, but said that the state's distinguished educator Judy Elliot , an state advisor-in-residence assigned to the district, has identified several problems with the way things are run.

"What i  would say is I have certainly been disappointed "

On Buffalo's turnaround plans for  East and Lafayette High School.
"Now they have a few things to still work out, but it is essentially an approvable plan."
 He adds that he is hopeful about the management contract that will have Johns Hopkins University to run the schools, but here too he has concerns about the Buffalo School District's administration saying: "I'm cautiously optimistic," but adding "the key will be is (hther) the central office is a source of support or a hinderance to the work in those schools"

On Buffalo's process:
"We have been disappointed by a lack of a sense or urgency.... hopefully Friday represents a turning point."

" Buffalo's had some unique challenges. We have invested a lot of time on behalf of our senior staff in tying to support them. What I didn't want to become is a distraction. What I think we've seen certainly over the last few months, is an effort to distract from the core responsibilities of the district. To try and shift responsibility and blame the state, when these are pretty straightforward administrative tasks that the district needs to execute. "

Filed Under :  
Topics : Education
Social :
Locations : BuffaloErie County
People : John KingJohn ZachJudy ElliotPamela BrownSusan Rose