Buffalo Public Schools, New York

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Buffalo Public Schools
Erie County, New York
Buffalo Public Schools seal.jpg
District Profile
Superintendent:Donald A. Ogilvie (interim)
Enrollment:32,723 students
Graduation rate:49%[1]
Number of schools:58
Budget: $806.6 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Barbara Seals Nevergold
Board members:9
Term length:3 or 5
Buffalo Public Schools is a school district in New York that served 32,723 students in 58 schools during the 2011-2012 school year.[2] This district is the second-largest by enrollment in the state of New York. Buffalo Public Schools has experienced significant tumult in recent years, culminating in the resignation of Superintendent Pamela Brown on June 16, 2014.
See also: Issues in Buffalo Public Schools

About the district

Buffalo Public Schools is located in Erie County, New York.
Buffalo Public Schools is located in Erie County, New York. The county seat of Erie County is Buffalo. Erie County is home to 919,086 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[3]


Buffalo underperformed in comparison to the rest of New York in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 23.4 percent of Buffalo residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 32.8 percent for New York as a whole. The median household income in Buffalo was $30,502 compared to $57,683 for the state of New York. The poverty rate in Buffalo was 30.1 percent compared to 14.9 percent for the entire state.[4]

Racial Demographics, 2010[4]
Race Buffalo (%) New York (%)
White 50.4 65.7
Black or African American 38.6 15.9
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.8 0.6
Asian 3.2 7.3
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.0 0.0
Two or More Races 3.1 3.0
Hispanic or Latino 10.5 17.6

2013 Party Affiliation, Erie County[5]
Party Registered Voters  % of Total
Democratic 301,873 49.49
Republican 157,704 25.86
Independent 28,996 4.75
Constitution 13,067 2.14
Working Families 3,175 0.52
Green 1,488 0.24
Other 365 0.07
Unaffiliated 103,240 16.93

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[6]


The interim superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools is Donald A. Ogilvie. Former Superintendent Pamela Brown announced her resignation shortly after the May 2014 school board election, which resulted in the board faction who opposed her winning a governing majority.[7] The Buffalo Board of Education voted 7-2 to accept her resignation on June 16, 2014, and agreed to pay her a year's salary and other compensation that totaled up to $238,667. The school board appointed a district administrator, Will Keresztes, to the position of interim superintendent while the board conducted a hiring search for Brown's replacement.[8][9] Less than a month later, the board appointed Donald A. Ogilvie as the new interim superintendent of the district to replace Keresztes.[10]

See also: Superintendent Pamela Brown controversy

School board

See also: Board infighting

Buffalo Public Schools is overseen by a nine-member board. Three members are elected at-large to five-year terms and the other six members are elected by geographic electoral district to three-year terms.[11]

The Buffalo Board of Education has two competing factions vying for control of the school district. Prior to former Superintendent Pamela Brown's resignation, she was the primary point of contention between the factions. The faction that supported Brown consisted of Barbara Seals Nevergold, Florence Johnson, Theresa Harris-Tigg, Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Sharon Belton-Cottman. The faction that opposed Brown included Carl P. Paladino, John Licata, Jason M. McCarthy and James M. Sampson. John Licata lost and Florence Johnson did not run in the May 2014 school board election. Although Barbara Seals Nevergold won re-election, both of the other seats were won by members of the opposing faction, which now has control of the school district.[12]

The new governing majority on the board consists of Carl P. Paladino, Jason M. McCarthy, James M. Sampson, Patricia B. Pierce and Larry Quinn.[13]

Buffalo Board of Education
Member District Term Ends
Barbara Seals Nevergold At-large 2019
Patricia B. Pierce At-large 2019
Larry Quinn At-large 2019
Jason M. McCarthy North 2016
Theresa Harris-Tigg East 2016
Mary Ruth Kapsiak Central 2016
James M. Sampson West 2016
Carl P. Paladino Park 2016
Sharon Belton-Cottman Ferry 2016

School board elections

See also: Buffalo Public Schools elections (2014)

Members of the Buffalo Board of Education are elected to three-year or five-year terms, depending on the type of seat they hold. Three at-large seats were up for election in 2014, and six district seats will be up for election in 2016.

Public participation in board meetings

The Buffalo Board of Education maintains the following policy on public testimony during board meetings:

The Board welcomes speakers to sign up to speak at all board meetings. Please be reminded that all speakers’ remarks must be limited to three minutes or less. We ask that speakers be mindful that this is a business meeting, open to the public and televised locally. Attendees and viewers include persons from throughout Western New York, including children.

This Board asks that speakers conduct themselves professionally and that their comments remain civil and courteous, bearing in mind that they will be heard by people of all ages. This is an opportunity for Buffalo’s residents to address the BBOE about issues that serve the public interest and District mission, and the Board asks that speakers demonstrate appropriate decorum.

Before the Meeting

  • Call 816-3570 to sign up to speak.
  • Call by noon on Tuesday prior to the Wednesday meeting.
  • Give your address (with phone number).
  • Give your topic/group affiliation.

At the Meeting

  • You will speak in the order that your call was received.
  • There is a 3 minute time limit.
  • Bring 12 copies of comments, if possible for board members and the Superintendent.[14]

—Buffalo Public Schools website, (2014)[15]


The table below displays the budget for Buffalo Public Schools:[16]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2013-2014 $421,249,594 53.1% $193,121,373 24.3% $55,054,231 6.9% $121,302,467 15.3% $3,250,000 0.4% $793,977,665
2014-2015 $434,000,000 53.8% $192,700,000 23.9% $59,900,000 7.4% $120,000,000 14.9% $0 0% $806,600,000
Averages: $427,624,797 53% $192,910,686.5 24% $57,477,115.5 7% $120,651,233.5 15% $1,625,000 0% $800,288,832.5

Teacher salaries

Buffalo Public Schools employed 2,882 K-12 teachers during the 2012-2013 school year.[1] Teacher salaries are categorized based on higher education achievement, professional development and years of service. A teacher with a bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate courses with raises at credit intervals. The salary schedule also accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries.

The district and the Buffalo Teachers Federation have not come to an agreement on a new salary schedule since the 2003-2004 school year.[17] The New York state Public Employment Relations Board is mediating the negotiations in an attempt to resolve the deadlock.[18] The following table details the salary schedule negotiated between the district and the Buffalo Teachers Federation for 2003-2004:[19]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
B.S. 32,897 68,357
B.S. + 10 33,900 69,360
B.S. + 20 34,903 70,363
B.S. + 30 35,906 71,366
B.S. + 40 36,909 74,014
B.S. + 50 37,912 75,017
B.S. + 60 38,915 76,020
MS 37,552 74,657
MS + 10 38,555 75,660
MS + 20 39,558 76,663
MS + 30 40,561 77,666
Ph.D. 42,936 80,041

Schools in Buffalo Public Schools


Buffalo Public Schools served 32,723 students during the 2011-2012 school year. Buffalo Public Schools does not publicly archive enrollment data.[2]

District schools

Buffalo Public Schools operates 58 schools listed below in numerical order:[20]

Buffalo Public Schools
School Name
Adult Education Center
PS 3 D’Youville Porter Campus School
PS 6 Buffalo Elementary School of Technology
PS 17 Early Childhood Center
PS 18 Dr. Antonia Pantoja Community School of Academic Excellence
PS 19 Native American Magnet School
PS 27 Hillery Park Elementary
PS 30 Frank A. Sedita Academy
PS 31 Harriet Ross Tubman School
PS 32 Bennett Park Montessori
PS 33 Bilingual Center
PS 37 Marva J. Daniel Futures Preparatory School
PS 39 Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute
PS 42 Occupational Training Center
PS 43 Lovejoy Discovery School
PS 45 International School
PS 53 Community School
PS 54 Dr. George E. Blackman School of Excellence ECC
PS 59 Dr. Charles R. Drew Science
PS 61 Early Childhood Center
PS 64 Frederick Law Olmsted
PS 65 Roosevelt ECC
PS 66 North Park Middle Academy
PS 67 Discovery School
PS 69 Houghton Academy
PS 72 Lorraine Elementary
PS 74 Hamlin Park School
PS 76 Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy
PS 79 Pfc. William J. Grabiarz School of Excellence
PS 80 Highgate Heights
PS 81 School
PS 82 Early Childhood Center
PS 84 Health Care Center for Children at ECMC
PS 89 Dr. Lydia T. Wright School of Excellence
PS 91 BUILD Academy
PS 93 Southside Elementary
PS 94 West Hertel Academy
PS 95 Waterfront Elementary School
PS 97 Harvey Austin School
PS 99 Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center
PS 115
PS 131 STAR Academy@Grover
PS 156 Frederick Law Olmsted
PS 192 Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts
PS 195 City Honors School
PS 197 Math Science Technology Preparatory School
PS 198 The International Preparatory School
PS 200 Bennett High School
PS 204 Lafayette High School
PS 205 Riverside Institute of Technology
PS 206 South Park High School
PS 212 Leonardo daVinci High School
PS 301 Burgard High School
PS 302 Emerson School of Hospitality
PS 304 Hutchinson Central Technical High School
PS 305 McKinley High School
PS 307 East High School
PS 415 Middle Early College High School

Academic performance

The New York State Education Department facilitates assessment of student performance throughout the state in English language arts and mathematics. These annual evaluations determine where students fit into the State Testing Program's standards for grades three through eight and high school. The following tables detail how the school district compared to state averages across grade cohorts in both categories, with percentages indicating students who reached Level 3 or higher on state tests.

The New York State Testing Program assesses student performance based on a four-point scale for each test category:[1]

  • Level 1: Below Standard: Student performance does not demonstrate an understanding of the academic discipline for a particular grade level.
  • Level 2: Meets Basic Standard: Student performance demonstrates a partial understanding of the academic discipline for a particular grade level.
  • Level 3: Meets Proficiency Standard: Student performance demonstrates an understanding of the academic discipline for a particular grade level.
  • Level 4: Exceeds Proficiency Standard: Student performance demonstrates a thorough understanding of the academic discipline for a particular grade level.

Student Proficiency Levels, English Language Arts, 2012-2013
Grade District (%) State (%)
3 12 31
4 11 30
5 10 30
6 12 30
7 11 31
8 14 34
9-12 59 81

Student Proficiency Levels, Mathematics, 2012-2013
Grade District (%) State (%)
3 13 34
4 10 36
5 9 30
6 11 31
7 7 28
8 7 28
9-12 65 84


Superintendent Pamela Brown controversy

Significant divisions arose within the Buffalo Board of Education since the election of former gubernatorial candidate and local businessman Carl P. Paladino in 2013. In that race, Paladino campaigned for the removal of incumbent board members and the dismissal of the district's top administrators, including Superintendent Pamela Brown.[21] After joining the board, Paladino continued to call for Superintendent Brown's resignation or firing, stating that she was "obviously incapable."[22][23] In September 2013, the board ruled in a 5-4 decision to keep the superintendent in place.[24]

In May 2014, Superintendent Brown announced her intention to resign after her opponents on the board won a governing majority following the election of Larry Quinn and Patricia B. Pierce.[7] The school voted 7-2 to accept her resignation on June 16, 2014. In exchange for her voluntary resignation, the district agreed to pay her a year's salary and other compensation that totaled up to $238,667. The school board appointed district administrator Will Keresztes to the position of interim superintendent while it conducted a hiring search for Brown's long-term replacement.[8][9] Less than a month later, the board appointed Donald A. Ogilvie as the new interim superintendent of the district to replace Keresztes.[10]

Board infighting

On October 23, 2013, board member Carl P. Paladino filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold from her leadership position. He later filed an appeal with the New York State Education Department and Commissioner of Education John King, claiming that she is unfit to meet the responsibilities of the position and stating that she had allowed board meeting participants to attack him verbally.[25] Paladino then filed a second petition with Commissioner King, which argued that Nevergold's position on the board was illegitimate due to her not running for the seat in the May 2013 election after being appointed to the board. Board member John Licata made a successful resolution to hire legal counsel for Nevergold's defense.[26] Local resident Joan Simmons filed a petition with the state agency requesting Paladino's removal from the board on the basis that he is disruptive and prevents the board from carrying out its duties.[27]

On April 4, 2014, Commissioner King rejected both of Paladino's petitions "on procedural grounds" and due to a lack of evidence.[28] However, Commissioner King's ruling on Paladino's second petition left open the possibility that Nevergold violated state law by not running for re-election in the May 2013 election. After hearing the decision, Paladino announced that he would pursue legal action against Nevergold in the New York State Supreme Court.[29] On May 19, 2014, Erie County Supreme Court Judge Tracey A. Bannister rejected Paladino's argument on the grounds that Nevergold was only required by law to run in the first election following her appointment for the type of seat she held, an at-large seat. The 2014 election was the first election for at-large seats following her appointment. Judge Bannister also noted that the statute of limitations for the case had passed and that Paladino did not have the legal right to re-litigate a decision already made by Commissioner King.[30]

Common Core

Buffalo school board members have weighed in with a range of different opinions on the Common Core education reforms implemented in the school district. In October 2013, board member James Sampson wrote an opinion piece for The Buffalo News that defended the reforms and praised both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King for resisting public pressure to delay or dismantle Common Core standards.[31] Parents in Buffalo and neighboring school districts voiced concerns about both Common Core and policies that require students who opt-out from the program's standardized testing to sit and wait silently during the testing period with no other activities available to them.[32]

Mayoral takeover

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown announced in February 2014 that he is considering taking control of Buffalo Public Schools. Brown refrained from taking a position on the issue of mayoral control during his 2013 bid for re-election, but suggested that the district's academic and financial struggles have made it clear that, "[...] the model that exists isn’t working, and people are looking for options and people are looking for hope."[33] Until the 1970s, the Buffalo Board of Education was separated from the school district and appointed by the mayor. In later remarks, Mayor Brown emphasized that he would only pursue mayoral control of the district if the plan received significant community support. Replacing the elected board with an appointed board would require a change in state law by the New York State Legislature, which Mayor Brown has not formally requested.[34]

Guinn hiring

In March 2013, consultant Mary Guinn and her firm, Cross and Joftus, were hired to provide leadership coaching to top district officials and to assist with the implementation of a central office reorganization plan. The initial three-month contract, which was paid with private grant money, also appointed Guinn to the temporary position of interim deputy superintendent. However, the district did not hire a permanent deputy superintendent and instead agreed to a one-year contract with Cross and Joftus at the additional cost of $432,000.[35] Board members questioned the appropriateness of Guinn's contract and involvement with payroll, internal communications and leadership meetings. Guinn's firm canceled the consulting contract on October 8, 2013 following board efforts to remove her from the position.[36]

During the board's closed session meeting on February 26, 2014, Superintendent Brown recommended that the board hire Guinn to fill the deputy superintendent position. The board voted 5-3 to hire Guinn for a 90-day period, with board member Jason M. McCarthy absent from the meeting.[37] An article from The Buffalo News journalist Tiffany Lankes indicated that Superintendent Brown may have intended since Guinn's October 2013 departure to bring her back to fill the position, despite Brown denying such rumors at the time. Guinn applied with the New York State Education Department for the credentials necessary to fill the position on October 16, 2013, which she received on February 14, 2014. An official with HealthNow, which managed the district's deputy superintendent candidate search, stated that the organization felt "a level of frustration" with the district's involvement in the process and concluded its search after, "[...] it became apparent that the way we had approached the search was not needed."[36]

Following Guinn's appointment, several board members voiced their displeasure with the decision. McCarthy stated that he would have voted against her appointment if he were present at the meeting. He added that he felt Superintendent Brown's unexpected request and the board vote were purposefully conducted in his absence in order to ensure Guinn's appointment. During interviews with The Buffalo News, board members James Sampson and Carl P. Paladino denounced the vote as "disrespectful" and "sinful," respectively.[38]

Uncertified administrators

On March 18, 2014, two Buffalo district administrators hired by Superintendent Brown were revealed to lack the necessary legal credentials to serve in their positions. Curriculum, assessment and instruction chief Yamilette Williams and school leadership chief Faith Morrison Alexander were both hired during the summer of 2013 with only conditional certificates to serve as school principals, not district administrators. District human resources administrator Darren J. Brown acknowledged that his office had failed to ensure that the two officials had obtained their proper certifications and stated that the school district faced legal liability issues as a result.[39]

Superintendent Brown announced on March 20, 2014 that she had put both officials on unpaid leave, but board members Carl P. Paladino and John Licata insisted that neither Williams nor Alexander were actually still employed by the district due to the violation of their contracts. Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold placed the blame for the oversight on the district's human resources department and indicated that she was misled regarding their certifications.[40] On March 25, 2014, Paladino announced that he had located additional district officials who lacked the necessary credentials for their positions at the time of their hiring, including Bennett High School Principal Terry Ross and Education Partnership Organization Superintendent Tamara Branch.[41]

Superintendent Brown attempted to retain Yamilette Williams and Faith Morrison Alexander as interns at an annual salary of $130,000 each, but the school board rejected her proposal and voted unanimously to fire both officials on April 2, 2014. Following the vote, Brown denied knowing that either administrator had lacked the proper credentials for their position, arguing, "At the time they were hired, it was my understanding that whatever they needed to have in order to take those positions, that they had it. It did not come to my attention that they did not have the proper certification until just recently."[42]

Contact information

Buffalo Public Schools seal.jpg

Buffalo Public Schools
712 City Hall
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: 716-816-3500

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Data NYSED, "School Report Card Data (2012 - 13)," accessed June 17, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed June 17, 2014
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Erie County, New York," accessed March 26, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 United States Census Bureau, "Buffalo (city), New York," accessed March 26, 2014
  5. New York State Board of Elections, "NYS Voter Enrollment by County, Party Affiliation and Status - Voters Registered as of November 01, 2013," accessed March 26, 2014
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Buffalo News, "Incoming School Board majority wants search for interim superintendent to begin ‘immediately’," June 3, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Buffalo News, "Brown is out; Keresztes named interim superintendent for Buffalo schools," June 16, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Time Warner Cable News, "Buffalo School Board Makes Superintendent's Resignation Official," June 16, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Buffalo Business First, "Turnover has become norm for Buffalo school superintendents," March 27, 2015
  11. Buffalo Public Schools, "Board of Education," accessed June 17, 2014
  12. Buffalo Public Schools, "Files and Documents," accessed April 16, 2014
  13. The Buffalo News, "Meet the candidates," accessed April 29, 2014
  14. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  15. Buffalo Public Schools, "Public Participation," accessed June 17, 2014
  16. Buffalo Public Schools, "Finance," accessed December 3, 2013
  17. Buffalo Teachers Federation, "Memo To: Ronald Kowalski, PERB Fact-Finder," June 9, 2014
  18. The Buffalo News, "BTF says mediator’s proposal on contract favors Buffalo school district," August 22, 2013
  19. Buffalo Public Schools, "2003-04 BTF Teacher's Salary Schedule," January 26, 2004
  20. Buffalo Public Schools, "Our Schools," accessed June 17, 2014
  21. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino to launch major push to remove school board incumbents," January 24, 2013
  22. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino wins, vows to shake up school district," May 8, 2013
  23. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Seeking changes, Paladino takes school board seat," July 10, 2013
  24. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Board votes to keep Superintendent Brown," September 26, 2013
  25. WKBW - ABC 7, "Buffalo Board of Education Member Wants President Nevergold Out," November 9, 2013
  26. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Buffalo District hires lawyer for school board president," November 21, 2013
  27. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino faces action seeking his removal from school board," January 16, 2014
  28. The Buffalo News, "Commissioner King's ruling on Paladino's petition to oust Nevergold," April 5, 2014
  29. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named paladino
  30. The Buffalo News, "The written ruling dismissing Paladino's bid to unseat Nevergold," May 20, 2014
  31. The Buffalo News, "Another Voice: Education commissioner has it right on Common Core standards," October 29, 2013
  32. The Buffalo News, "Why should kids just ‘sit and stare’? as parents, school officials debate Common Core testing," March 18, 2014
  33. The Buffalo News, "Mayor considers taking control of Buffalo school district," February 26, 2014
  34. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mayor
  35. The Buffalo News, "Fate of consultant in Buffalo School Board’s hands as her compensation, authority are questioned," September 24, 2013
  36. 36.0 36.1 The Buffalo News, "Seed sown last fall for Guinn to be rehired by school district, state records show," March 6, 2014
  37. The Buffalo News, "Guinn’s hiring expected to create more divisiveness on School Board," February 27, 2014
  38. The Buffalo News, "Board members call Guinn's appointment "deceptive," "disrespectful" and "sinful"," February 28, 2014
  39. The Buffalo News, "Two top Buffalo school district officials lack state certifications," March 19, 2014
  40. The Buffalo News, "Uncertified Buffalo school administrators no longer employed by district," March 22, 2014
  41. WBFO 88.7: NPR News & More, "Paladino uncovers more school district employees without proper credentials," March 25, 2014
  42. The Buffalo News, "Buffalo School Board votes overwhelmingly to fire 2 top administrators," April 3, 2014