BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - As supporters of Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown rallied on the steps of City Hall, members of the Buffalo School Board filed into Wednesday's meeting to discuss her possible termination.
Board member Carl Paladino has stood apart as Brown's biggest critic, and the political firebrand will introduce a motion Wednesday night to terminate the superintendent's contract.
Five votes are needed to force Brown out. Right now, it appears the vote will be split, with four in favor and four against, and it may come down to a single board member: Theresa Harris-Tigg. At this point, it's unclear how she will vote, but Brown has said she has no plans to step down, even if half the board stands against her.
"I have every intention on staying. I've made a commitment to the 33,000 children in this district and to this entire city to come to this district and demonstrate the leadership that is needed to improve the schools that we serve," Brown stated.
Brown has also come under fire from the NYS Education Commissioner and the District Coordinating Council, and both have been critical of the plan to transfer more than 2,000 students out of low performing school to schools in good standing. Council president Sam Radford argues the district could easily transfer these students by next semester.
Council president Sam Radford said, "The bottom line is the district has got $50 million in the rainy day fund, so from a parent perspective, that's a money issue, and that has to be worked out between the state and Board of Education. Our only concern is that you move the children."
Should Brown be terminated, she may be entitled to a "golden parachute." The superintendent's contract is a three-year agreement, which expires in 2015. If she is terminated without cause, Brown will receive one year's salary of $217,000.
Aside from Brown, the school board will be talking about two other major issues, including the possible termination of the consulting contract for Dr. Mary Guinn and whether or not to approve the hiring of Lorey Schultz to be chief of public relations for the district.
Guinn currently serves as the main consultant to Brown and the district. She pulls in a salary of $289,000, which is part of a $432,000 contract with consulting firm Cross & Joftus. Guinn went from being a deputy superintendent to a consultant, but has continued to sign documents for the district and played a key role in conducting meetings of the superintendent's cabinet. Some say these actions fall well outside the role of a consultant. And there are also questions about her expenses.
"During the month of July and August, we have spent in excess of $3,700 in hotel expenses and then over $6,100 on travel expenses," board member Jim Sampson said.
As for Lorey Schultz, the superintendent hired her at a rate of $115,000 a year to head-up public relations for the district. She would oversee Elena Cala, who currently handles media relations. Sources say the appointment of Schultz violated district hiring procedures.
"Her actions in trying to hire this lady are improper and because of that she has to bring it to the board. Apparently she went ahead and signed a contract, which she had no right to do," Paladino said.
Schultz's position has not been appropriated in the budget.
The board will discuss these matters in executive session, but before they do, they are conducting Wednesday's public meeting to Common Council chambers to make room for a larger than average crowd.
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