BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo School Board has interviewed five of the 16 candidates hopeful to fill the board seat Carl Paladino once held.

Paladino held the Park District seat, which represents South Buffalo, until the State Education Commissioner removed him.

The following were questions asked Wednesday night to each candidate:

  • What ideas or initiatives would you like to see implemented to improve attendance?

The district's "Attendance Counts!" initiative, for example, rewards strong attendance. Between 15 and 25 percent of students have been chronically absent, according to reports over the past few years.

  • How would you go about reaching out to folks in your district to actually get them there?

Superintendent Kriner Cash's New Education Bargain calls out parents saying they need to be involved, too.
The district created community schools to support families, but holding parents accountable is still tough.

  • How would you address the disparities and inequities in the Buffalo Public School system?

Central District member Paulette Woods cites that in 2017, Buffalo is still among the most segregated cities. As that relates to schools, she points out there's a lack of minorities getting into criteria schools, like City Honors.

  • What should teaching and learning in the classroom look like, to help effectively implement the New Education Bargain?

Kriner Cash has called this school year “the year of instruction.” Loosely, this fits in with the education bargain, where teachers and parents need to consider their approaches to optimize students' chances of grasping the curriculum. The district would like to, of course, see better test scores, too.

  • What do you think is the single most important issue facing Buffalo Public Schools?

This question caused each candidate to stumble. Ferry District member Sharon Belton-Cottman said that’s kind of the point.

She says there is not just one single most important issue, but still, an educated candidate who did his or her homework could come in and present which of Buffalo’s many issues is perhaps most pressing.

“Certainly the answers we heard were definitely illustrating the fact that this a multi-faceted question,” she said.

Two other questions touched on the interviewees’ opinion of charter schools, and his or her understanding of receivership as it pertains to struggling or chronically struggling schools.

Belton-Cottman said she is looking forward to a new chapter for the Park District, the district which the newest board member will represent.