BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Due to the increasing number of parents coming out to discuss ongoing issues, the Buffalo School Board took Wednesday night's meeting to the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, which has a large auditorium.
Two big issues facing the board involve the Cross & Joftus contract, which the firm has decided to back out of. That move leaves the fate of Dr. Mary Guinn, whose salary was supplied through that contract, uncertain. Dr. Guinn was brought on to help restructure the schools, and has long been supported by Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown.
The other big topic on the table is the district's reorganization plan itself, which some members oppose because it adds positions to the Central Office.
But the meeting started with an issue raised by concerned parents and the Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council: the lack of health, wellness and physical education in city schools.
Partnership for Public Health Director Sam Magavern said, "The K through 3 in Buffalo Public Schools, they're only getting 30 minutes of phys. ed. every six days. And the state requirement is 120 minutes every five days. So they're getting less than 25 percent of phys. ed. than the state requires."
A recent report from the State Health Department found that a third of all students in Buffalo schools are overweight or obese.
Speaking on behalf of the Council, Jessica Bauer-Walker stated Buffalo schools are not complying with the law. The Council wants schools to implement the comprehensive wellness policy the board passed last year, and they're threatening to sue if it isn't.
Superintendent Dr. Brown responded, "We are not there yet, but we have made quite a bit of progress," adding, "we ask for your partnership [and] constructive suggestions."
But Bauer-Walker says the board is not working with parents and not being complaint. Board member Jason McCarthy agreed, saying, "it's on us, not parents" to make changes. McCarthy wants a meet regarding the issue to be scheduled immediately.
Board president Dr. Barbara Nevergold admonished McCarthy for taking up the board's time during the period open to public comment. She then invited the next speaker to go on. After a few more spoke to the board, members went into executive session to discuss the Cross & Joftus contract and the district's reorganization plan.
After more than two hours, the board members returned. Dr. Nevergold told attendees that the board has taken no action on the legal issues they discussed.
But the board did vote to have Dr. Brown negotiate the termination of the Cross & Joftus contract and begin to work towards replacing the consulting firm.
And the school board voted to approve two new administrative positions in the Central Office, 7-2, as part of the district's reorganization plan. These positions are the same ones already created by Dr. Brown that the board had complained about previously as the superintendent did not get input from members.
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