Buffalo Board of Education
The Buffalo Board of Education just completed a very competitive and contentious election that has resulted in the election of two (out of three) new Board members, who join three current members in a new majority block that has promised to terminate the contract of Superintendent Dr. Pamela C. Brown. Dr. Brown has tenured her resignation. The current majority on the Board will continue until June 30th. This group has concerns about the status of the District once Dr. Brown departs, along with her Interim Deputy, Dr. Mary Guinn. The group has proposed, against great opposition, the retention of Dr. Guinn for a period of 90 days past June 30th in order to create a stable transition.
The question is: Why do certain members of the Board of Education, including me, want to keep Dr. Mary Guinn as the Buffalo School’s Interim Deputy Superintendent? The answer is simple – it’s in the best interest of the children of this District.
In certain circles, when the conversation shifts to Dr. Guinn, the major points that are made, particularly by detractors is that she’s “polarizing”; she was a “highly paid consultant”; “a lightning rod for controversy”. Citing more negative descriptors, the Buffalo News’ May 30th editorial also declared that “the current Board majority continues to push its own agenda, which involves naming Mary Guinn…as interim superintendent to lead the district for a few months.” But the News has it wrong! The current Board majority does not want to appoint Dr. Guinn as the Interim Superintendent. In fact, we want her to stay in her current position as Interim Deputy Superintendent for three additional months, until September 30th. Why? Again, the answer is simple – it’s in the best interest of the children.
Dr. Mary Guinn is a consummate educational professional, who along with Dr. Brown is the only professional in the District to hold New York State certification as a School District Leader. She has experience as a school leader in other Districts and as a turnaround specialist. As the Interim Deputy Superintendent, she has managed a number of major tasks and supervises top level staff in the District. With the forced resignation of Dr. Pamela C. Brown the School District will enter the summer – a busy planning period with several critical staff vacancies. Dr. Guinn has direct responsibility for the oversight of a number of these positions; e.g.: the Chief of Curriculum, Assessment & Instruction; a Chief of School Leadership; the Director of Grants; the Chief of Strategic Alignment and an Assistant Superintendent of Leadership. She has worked long hours, with other staff, to ensure that the work of these division heads continues to be addressed. Dr. Guinn’s departure on June 30th will come at a time when the current school year is winding down, summer school will begin and the planning for the next school year is solidified. However, the fact of the matter is that these activities don’t begin to describe the complexity and the myriad tasks that have to be accomplished by staff during the next several months.
Let me be perfectly clear. In no way am I implying that the District’s staff are not competent, committed and professional. I commend them for working with Dr. Brown and Dr. Guinn, under a great deal of stress. They have been stretched thin. The issue is that the District is being destabilized at a time it can least afford such instability. The recommendation to retain Dr. Guinn for 90 days until September 30th is an accountable response to serious concerns. We need to maintain stability in our District while the Board works to appoint an interim Superintendent. Dr. Guinn can contribute to this effort. Retaining Dr. Guinn until September 30th is the responsible action to take and IT’S IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN.