The resolution Board President Ralph Hernandez introduced passed by a vote of 5 - 2, establishing a 6-member stakeholders group composed of representatives from the Buffalo Board of Education, Common Council, District Parent Coordinating Committee, Buffalo Teachers Federation and Buffalo Council of School Administrators to review the EPO proposals outside groups submitted to district officials on May 31.
Board Member at-large, Florence Johnson told Mr. Hernandez she needed more "clarity" on the issue before voting when he responded she can vote "no." Johnson shot back, "close your mouth!"
Park District board member Louis J. Petrucci made some insightful comments about the size of the group perhaps too small whether it's inclusive of all parties both teachers and administrators including the reps from the site base management teams in the persistently low achieving schools.
John Licata board member at-large said the State Education Department (SED) doesn't know what they're doing after he sat in on a meeting for half an hour what he called ridiculous.
Yet the most interesting exchange at the meeting happened between Licata and Superintendent James A. Williams when Licata asked to see the proposals Williams responded they were under lock and key in the Purchasing. Why, Licata asked?
Hernandez added, when the board made the determination to use the EPO model the responsibility fell on the board not the superintendent. Williams demurely responded, "you can have them tomorrow. I don't want to be involved," but added "you can answer the state's questions if you know how."
Williams announced his retirement on Wednesday amid an unfavorable rating on his annual evaluation.
So far twelve outside groups submitted proposals that have been kept under lock and key until the board provides district officials directives what to do with them as per Williams.
Meanwhile, Tuesday, June 7 is the deadline date for district officials to inform SED what process they are using to select the proposals for the Restart schools though the board doesn't appoint the 6-member review panel until June 8.
Board member Petrucci wanted to make sure the advisory panel didn't "supplant the board's responsibilities." Hernandez responded he envisioned the committee reaching "out to all stakeholders." The SED set a deadline date of July 31 to coincide with the federal government guidelines for funding the proposals. And the board may have to heed the concerns of Rosalyn Taylor, East District, a former assistant superintendent of the Buffalo Schools until she retired last year. With only eight weeks left to the July 31 deadline, Taylor said,
The only thing I worry about is the timeline. When does this process have to be completed? Do we have enough time to establish a committee, have the committee go out and visit? I'm all for input from all the stakeholders.Williams advised the board to use a rubric to rate the EPO's and he recommended they use Learning Points Associates as the process for selecting a Restart model for each of the seven persistently low achieving schools slated to be turnaround this summer. Learning Points Associates previously worked on a curriculum audit for the district and SED advised the group might be involved again. And a district official commented:
"According to the state, they told us the July 31 deadline was a federal deadline and funds would not flow if they were not approved prior to that."