BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The president of the consulting firm instrumental in the reorganization of the Buffalo School district tells News 4 Sr. Correspondent Rich Newberg he is "not sure at this point," if his firm will continue to help map the district's future.
The president of the consulting firm assisting the Buffalo School District in its reorganization says politics and a divisive school board may lead to the termination of his company's contract.Scott Joftus of Cross & Joftus tells Senior Correspondent Rich Newberg he is sensing that a vote at Wednesday's Buffalo School Board meeting "is going to be close and probably end up with a cancelation of our contract."
Cross and Joftus has been the firm supporting the major reorganization of the district's central office and providing schools with a wide range of supports geared toward the new Common Core teaching and testing standards.
Should the contract be terminated, Dr. Mary Guinn, the face of Cross & Joftus in the district, would leave Buffalo, according to Mr. Joftus, and be assigned to other duties in the firm. The company has landed a major school contract in Omaha, based on recommendations by the Buffalo District, says Mr. Joftus.
"What breaks me up the most," said Joftus, is that "she is so committed to helping improvement in Buffalo in a way that will ultimately help students, and that there hasn't been a recognition by some of the board and others, as to (her) value and contributions that she's made."
Scott Joftus says his company has not yet been paid for services. The overall one year contract is for $432,000, ending June 30, 2014. Dr. Guinn's fee in that contract is $289,000.
Scott Joftus, of Cross and Joftus, which has a $432,000 contract with the district has told News 4 in the past that performance objectives were not spelled out in the agreement that supports the district's central office restructuring and coaching of cabinet members, but that benchmarks for success were shared separately with Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown.
Some Buffalo School Board members have been critical of the way the contract has been carried out, including certain actions of Dr. Mary Guinn, whose $289,000 fee is paid through the Cross Joftus arrangement. Dr. Guinn served as Interim Deputy Superintendent for several months, and then became a paid consultant on July 1st. As Deputy Superintendent, her salary was funded through local foundation grants. Her current consulting contract is paid through state grants. Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino believes the contract with Cross and Joftus is "null and void," and plans on moving that it be terminated at Wednesday's School Board meeting. "It's an undated, unacknowledged piece of paper that doesn't really reflect responsibilities of the parties," Paladino tells News 4.
Guinn is quoted last week at a meeting with a parent group that "if allowed to continue," she would work to make changes that parents were concerned about. The meeting involved $26 million of Title 1 money to deal with low performing students and low income students. Superintendent, Dr. Pamela Brown has said Dr. Guinn has been a major asset to the district.
As part of the district's re-organization plan, new appointments made by Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown are also being called into question, specifically the post of Executive Special Assistant to the Superintendent, and Chief of School Leadership. Paladino points out these positions were not allocated in the budget and require Board approval.
The board is awaiting legal opinions on the Cross and Joftus contract and Superintendent's cabinet positions that are in question.
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