BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Candidates in a race for the Buffalo School Board presented their platforms at a public meeting Tuesday night.
Six district seats are up for grabs on the highly criticized board and only three current members will be on the ballot. Only one of those members, Mary Ruth Kaspiak, attended a forum at the Lafayette Presbyterian Church. She was joined by seven candidates, including Carl Paladino, one of the board's biggest critics, who sat directly next to her.
Paladino stated, "44 of 56 schools are failing. You'd never know it if you go to a board meeting."
The candidates were asked about how they would ensure teachers have continued training.
John Henry Grant responded, "Development is a key process for producing great results. That's an easy given. So there definitely needs to be a sense of teacher development and a sense for mastering the craft of teaching. An unhappy teacher will not produce happy results. Contracts are something that needs to be discussed, and also in regards to teacher evaluations, a logical evaluation plan not based on a child that doesn't come to school everyday."
Byron McIntyre said, "Buffalo Public School teachers do not have to go to professional development classes, period. Ask the teacher, they'll tell you. Should it be mandated? Yes."
Adrian Harris added, "Give them the support and mentoring that they really deserve."
And the candidates were asked their thoughts on having children attend their neighborhood school.
James Sampson said, "The time that kids are spending on the buses is too much of a day. I think that neighborhood schools will provide the kind of environment that makes it easier for parents to engage in the education of their children."
Theresa Harris-Tigg stated, "It's going to take a community-, city-, county-wide effort to bring back some of these communities that have been left just deplorable."
Wendy Mistretta added, "Use the neighborhood around the schools as a vehicle for improving the schools in the neighborhood and then the families will want to put their kids in those schools."
Mary Ruth Kapsiak countered, "This is not happening. I have done studies on it. So far I have come up with the fact that you don't have the children in the areas that you have schools."
Mainly, candidates talked about the changes they would like to see in the district's future.
Paladino said, "I intend to publish the entire line item budget of the Buffalo school system on the internet and invite every accountant in the area to delve into it and point out to me me where the waste fraud and abuse is."
Some parents were impressed with the candidates.
North District parent Maisha Drayton said, "The candidates were very transparent. I appreciated the way that they spoke very passionately about what was important, which was the students. I was glad to hear it is the students."
The school board election takes place on May 7. The three incumbents on the ballot for re-election are Mary Ruth Kapsiak, Jason McCarthy, and Sharon Belton-Cottman.
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