BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Dr. Mary Guinn was hired five months ago to help turn schools in Buffalo around. But it was a decision some believe has been a waste of taxpayer money.
Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino is criticizing the salary of Dr. Guinn, who was named interim deputy superintendent in March.
"They told the staff to bury that salary in a grant," Paladino stated.
Scott Joftus is co-founder of the educational consulting firm, Cross and Joftus. Based in Maryland, the firm has been contracted by the school district and brought on Dr. Guinn.
"Dr. Guinn is a consultant to us; she is not an employee," Joftus explained.
The consulting firm has a one-year contract for $432,000 with Buffalo Public Schools, and Dr. Guinn is paid $289,000 in salary, including benefits, from that contract.
"That $289,000 that Dr. Guinn is earning, that she also uses to pay for her own benefits, compares to the salary of the permanent deputy superintendent, plus his or her own benefits which are valued at $231,000," Joftus argued.
In her role as the interim deputy superintendent, Dr. Guinn oversees the re-organization of Buffalo schools.
"Not only is it a reorganization, it is a change in culture, it is a change of processes, it's a change of practices that emphasize supporting schools to do the best they can to support greater student achievement," Joftus explained.
So Joftus says, for that salary, Dr. Guinn is not only filling the job of deputy superintendent, but also as the lead consultant.
At the Buffalo School Board meeting Wednesday night, Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown clarified the role of Dr. Guinn
"Dr. Guinn came onboard, initially, as an employee of Cross and Joftus. And I have Scott Joftus here, and he can probably speak about it in more detail. But we were able, through some other grant funding, to allow her to continue to work not as the interim deputy superintendent, at that point, but as a leadership consultant," Dr. Brown explained.
The superintendent also faced a line of questioning from board members about the district's reorganization plan, specifically about some of the central office positions that have been merged or newly created.
Paladino questioned, "The superintendent is telling us that she's in the process of implementing this [district reorganization plan]; in fact, a number of people have been hired. And I'd like to know where the authority came from, to hire these people."
"I don't think this is the venue for engaging in a debate. But I certainly, as the superintendent of this school district, believe that I have the authority to screen and hire candidates," Dr. Brown responded.
Some board members also expressed concern about salary increases for certain positions, and accountability.
Board member James Sampson said, "Strategic plans include performance outcomes, measurements, and how you're going to hold folks accountable. That's not in this plan."
Later, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel issues. Among them, potentially sending layoff notices to 17 teachers. However, that doesn't necessarily mean anyone will lose his or her job. The notices can be rescinded within 30 days.
A tractor trailer veered off the road and went through a fence, while crashing into the Forest Hill Cemetery, in Fredonia, Friday morning.
Officials in Wyoming have captured a wanted man and his girlfriend, who were allegedly heading to Buffalo.
After a slow and slippery commute Thursday night, many western New Yorkers are waking up early, hoping they can get to work on time Friday morning.
NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has obtained a court order to prevent a Buffalo woman from ever selling puppies again.
Around 5 p.m. on Thursday near the corner of Model City Road and Rt. 104, police say 84-year-old Jose Martinez was hit by a car driven by 82-year-old Maura Nolan. Both are residents of Lewiston.
The Erie County Legislature approved a resolution Thursday to immediately hire 15 seasonal drivers to fill a staff shortage.