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Ogilvie To Become Buffalo Schools Super Tonight

The Buffalo Board of Education is expected to appoint retired Erie 1 BOCES Supt. Don Ogilvie as Superintendent and approve a contract with him Wednesday, marking the shift from an administration that often disagreed with the state Education Department, to one that could embrace it as a partner for reform.
"His resume speaks for itself. I think the board a week or two ago was laying out what a candidate should have, and I think it would be hard to find anyone who better matches  that description than Don Ogilvie, certainly when you look at his role as a partner with the state looking at this district "  
      -- Jason Zwara, Buffalo ReformED
" I look forward to working with him. I think he has the understanding that he needs. I think it might be easier for somebody from within the Buffalo Public Schools. He is going to need a good number 2 and number 3."
      --Phil Rumore, Buffalo Teachers Federation

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Chancellor Emeritus Bob Bennett, NYS Board of Regents

Buffalo School Board Pres. James Sampson

Board Member Larry Quinn
In 2010, Ogilvie was a member of the joint intervention team that the State Education Department sent to the Buffalo School District to evaluate problems there and made recommendations for administrative reforms in a report to state officials. His appointment comes after state officials rejected several Buffalo school turnaround plans that were not completed.

"His relationship with the State Education Department, specifically the fact that he was on the joint intervention team that came and looked at what was going on in Buffalo Public Schools gives him insight," says Sam Radford, of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

As part of that team, Ogilvie wrote a six page letter so critical of Buffalo Schools, that the then administration declined to release it to board of education members until told to do so by state officials.

"It is obvious by the sheer number of schools identified as persistently low achieving, that the overall performance has not improved. Absences and suspensions are excessive, drop-outs continue, and the graduation rate is dismal and must be addressed.  Academic expectations are not enough," 
      - Superintendent candidate Don Ogilvie in a 2010 letter to the State Education Dept. 

What Will Ogilvie Do?

Click Here to Read His 2010 Letter Outlining The Changes Needed in Buffalo Schools
Ogilvie retired from his position atop Erie 1 BOCES in June, and had been in charge of the umbrella of shared services and vocational programs they institute on behalf of several school districts in Erie County.  He was one of the candidates considered as interim superintendent upon the departure of Supt. James Williams in 2010, and has worked with the Buffalo School System to allow students to attend BOCES and receive vocational education diplomas.

Last year the state ordered the co-operation with BOCES to try and boost a graduation rate of 47 percent. In 2013 numbers released since then, the rate rose approximately 3 points to 51 %.

The contract with Ogilvie is expected to pay him approximately $218,000 . In a letter to board members announcing the intent to vote on his appointment tonight, Board President James Sampson wrote  " Essentially he will be paid the same as Doctor (Pamela) Brown. There will be no fringe benefits and no provision for bonuses or merit pay. Also he can terminate the contract with 30 days notice as can the BOE.  "

Based  on the plans that various board members had floated publicly, Ogilvie will be a long term interim, to try and implement reforms, before handing day to day administration of a restored school district off to another administrator in approximately three years.

Here's what Zwara's Buffalo ReformED, a advocacy group, wrote of the Ogilvie hiring:

     Despite the board's new minority's efforts to stall and delay the search for and naming of a longer term interim superintendent, the new majority under board President James Sampson has recruited former Erie1BOCES superintendent Don Ogilvie to lead the district for the next one to two years while a thorough search for the next permanent superintendent is conducted. Few can claim a better resume and background than Ogilvie, who has been a teacher, principal and superintendent across numerous Western New York districts, as well as a key asset to the State Education Department during his 17 year tenure as Erie1BOCES superintendent.

             But the new board is not content just to name an interim superintendent and allow several weeks or months to fade away while the new person develops their own action plan: the new board has also come forth with an outline of an action plan, identifying six priorities for the interim superintendent to immediately focus on. These priorities include: immediately expanding high-quality choice options, realigning the central office structure of the district, negotiating a new contract with the teachers' union, and engaging stakeholders, especially parents and the State Education Department, in moving forward over the coming years.

             This simple act alone, of a set of priorities coming from the board leadership, is refreshing and a much needed change. Any person familiar with any sort of organization with an elected board, be it a non-profit, a corporation, or a government entity like a school board, knows that the board's primary responsibilities are setting the vision for the organization and hiring the chief executive officer, the person directly responsible for carrying out that vision. Under previous boards, this board function was simply ignored; instead, the board selected a superintendent, then entrusted that person to develop and implement their own vision. The results over the past several decades speak for themselves

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