Cash wants to avoid be­ing lame duck while board de­cides on su­per­in­ten­dent

The Buffalo News - - CONTINUED FROM THE COVER -

CASH •fromA1

to be strong sup­port among can­di­dates for Cash to stay.

“Ab­so­lutely,” said Larry Scott, a par­ent ac­tivist who is run­ning for an at-large seat. “My pref­er­ence would be at least three years. I think that would give us some time, as well, for a new Board of Ed­u­ca­tion to start plan­ning a suc­ces­sion plan.”

“I don’t see why the su­per­in­ten­dent wouldn’t be ex­tended,” said Board Mem­ber Sharon Bel­ton-Cottman, who is run­ning for re-elec­tion in the Ferry District. “I’ve been through seven su­per­in­ten­dents. I cer­tainly don’t want to keep play­ing that game over and over again.”

“I don’t see a new board that does not re­new his con­tract,” said Board Mem­ber Hope Jay, who is run­ning for re-elec­tion in the North District.

Cash, who is in his fourth year as Buf­falo su­per­in­ten­dent, will earn $296,145 this year.

He told The Buf­falo News he would be will­ing to sign up for a one- or two-year ex­ten­sion be­yond 2020 to keep the district on track and help the new board find his suc­ces­sor.

“I’m not try­ing to go any­where, be­cause I like where I am,” he said.

Cash will give the new board a lit­tle time to get ac­cli­mated. But he also said he would like a de­ci­sion on his fu­ture in Buf­falo by early next school year.

“I’m go­ing to give them to about Septem­ber,” said Cash, 64. “But they’re go­ing to have to make their de­ci­sion, one way or an­other, as one of their first or­ders of busi­ness, and then I’ll let them know what I’m go­ing to do.”

Cash said he wants to avoid be­ing a lame duck su­per­in­ten­dent for most of next school year while await­ing a board de­ci­sion.

“And that’s just for the in­ter­est of my fam­ily,” Cash said. “What folks don’t un­der­stand about a su­per­in­ten­dent is that it’s a two-year deal to exit and then tran­si­tion.”

Since com­ing to Buf­falo in 2015, Cash – the for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent of the Mem­phis City Schools – has pro­vided some sta­bil­ity for a trou­bled ur­ban district, where the Su­per­in­ten­dent’s Of­fice has been a re­volv­ing door in re­cent years.

He’s cred­ited with chart­ing a clear course for the Buf­falo Pub­lic Schools with a mul­ti­pronged ap­proach for re­form, dubbed the New Ed­u­ca­tion Bar­gain. That has in­cluded a fo­cus on smaller class sizes in the early grades, more op­tions in the high schools to give kids a bet­ter chance to grad­u­ate, and open­ing schools af­ter hours and on week­ends to pro­vide ad­di­tional ser­vices for the need­i­est stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

“Hope­fully, he’ll want to stay and con­tinue to im­ple­ment the plan,” Woods said. “I be­lieve ev­ery­body who is run­ning will prob­a­bly re­spect and sup­port the Ed­u­ca­tion Bar­gain. It’s mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. You can’t deny we’ve made an im­prove­ment in the school sys­tem.”

The num­ber of city schools con­sid­ered to be in good stand­ing by the state has more than dou­bled to 37 dur­ing his ten­ure, while the num­ber of those in jeop­ardy of be­ing shut down has dropped from 25 to three. Crit­ics, though, also ques­tion how much of that progress is due to changes in the state’s ac­count­abil­ity sys­tem for schools.

Buf­falo’s grad­u­a­tion rate, mean­while, has hov­ered around 64 per­cent the last three years. That’s bet­ter than the 48 per­cent from as re­cent as 2012, but still lower than the 70 per­cent Cash has set as a goal for the district.

“I am con­cerned about con­ti­nu­ity and tra­jec­tory,” Cash said. “I re­ally want ev­ery­one to have the at­ti­tude that we must con­tinue to do this work. The bar­gain is a good frame­work, but it’s flex­i­ble enough that you could put ad­di­tional work into it. There is al­ways more to do.”

Last year, the School Board gave Cash an over­all grade of 3.14 on a scale of 1 (needs im­prove­ment) to 4 (ex­cel­lent). That was a lit­tle bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous year, but not as good as his first eval­u­a­tion. He scored well last year for his em­pha­sis on rais­ing achieve­ment and his re­la­tion­ship with the com­mu­nity, but less well when it came to com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the board.

A new School Board would be well served to keep him, said Park District Board Mem­ber Lou Petrucci.

“The Ed­u­ca­tion Bar­gain has had pos­i­tive re­sults for the district,” said Petrucci, who is run­ning for re-elec­tion. “Con­ti­nu­ity will keep the Buf­falo Pub­lic Schools on the right path.”

An ex­ten­sion also would en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion to the next leader, said Jack Ka­vanaugh, an at-large can­di­date.

“By and large, I think he’s done a re­ally good job,” Ka­vanaugh said, “and I think a lot of that has to do with, not just his vi­sion for the schools, but just hav­ing some­one steady at the helm for a con­sis­tent amount of time.”

The num­ber of city schools con­sid­ered to be in good stand­ing by the state has more than dou­bled to 37 dur­ing his ten­ure, while the num­ber of those in jeop­ardy of be­ing shut down has dropped from 25 to three.

Mark Mul­ville/Buf­falo News

Buf­falo School Su­per­in­ten­dent Kriner Cash says he would be will­ing to sign an ex­ten­sion to his con­tract.

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