WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? 2019 SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES RESPOND

“Our Children Are Too Important Not to Get Out and Vote”

Please Take The Time To Review The Responses We Received From Each Candidate. Cast Your Vote May 7th!

SHARON BELTON-COTTMAN / Ferry District


I am running to continue the fight of improving and providing a quality and equitable education for all children;  to continue this district on an upward path of providing  an education which will ensure that our children have  bright future and a fighting chance in society by being educated for the future.  I am running because the graduation rate must be improved to 80% or better.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I am a Buffalo Public school graduate of East High School.  I currently have 3 grandchildren attending Buffalo Public Schools and one granddaughter attending a charter school.   

*What endorsements have you received so far? 

The Working Family Party, Citizens Action, 1149, Buffalo Teachers Federation and BCSA and PETA. 

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?  

Three important issues facing BPS today: 1) low graduation rate and high suspension rate 2) lack of parent engagement and participation and 3) the lack of equitable  resources and spending disbursed amongst all students and schools.

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? 

 The Amistad Commission, a highly accredited curriculum consisting of  the infusion of African American history into the daily curriculum has been on going for 3 years. In addition, we have the  Culturally Linguistically Responsive Teaching model developed under the genius of Dr. Fatimah Morrell, while under the leadership of Superintendent  Cash and watchful eye of some engaged board members.  More information is available at www.buffaloschools.org  

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? 

I have worked well with Dr. Cash and support a contract extension.

TERRANCE HEARD At large

I Truly believe in our students and that they deserve a chance at success. Being the only Member At-Large candidate who was a Buffalo Public Schools educator, I understand the sociological and psychological barriers that our students and teachers face in the classrooms. I believe that I can help “change the culture” by raising the education bar in our underperforming schools, while adding programs that have been utilized in our high performing Schools.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I am a proud graduate of Seneca Vocational High School.  I have one son at Bennett High School and three children who graduated from Buffalo Public Schools.

*What endorsements have you received so far?  

Board of Education President Barbara Seals-Nevergold; The Buffalo Teachers Federation; Citizen’s Action of NY; Buffalo Board of Education Members – Sharon Belton-Cottman and Paulette Woods; and many school   Administrators and Teachers.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance? 

My first priority/issue is to ensure that each child receive the best possible education that our schools can provide. Second would be to ensure the fiscal health of the Buffalo Public Schools budget.   Finally, I plan on being a voice for our students and teachers. 

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

Yes, I support the idea of African History and African American history being taught in Buffalo Public Schools. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? 

I  do and will support extending Dr. Kriner Cash’s contract as Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.

PATRICIA ELLIOTT / East

I am running for office because I honestly want to be the change that I want to see in our district for our children. My heart is right for this very important work. I am unbossed and unbought. I have no other motive than our children get the education they deserve.

*Did you graduate from public schools?  Yes, from the school district of Philadelpha, my hometown. All of my children went to public schools. My youngest is in a charter school which is still a public school. 

*What endorsements have you received so far? I have been endorsed by Dr. Umar Johnson and the Buffalo News in this election and the 2016 election.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues sf facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

The number one issue for certain that  Black students are disproportionately suspended more that any other student in the state of New York. The second is teacher diversity . The majority of our teachers are White suburban women who do not have a real connection to the Black and Brown children in this district.The third is course access- we need to know for sure that our children are getting the right coursesthey need to be college and career ready upon graduation. 

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

Yes I would support such efforts. It is my plan to totally eliminate out of school suspensions. There is nothing that proves that out of school suspensions are beneficial to the students. When it comes to school discipline, BPS has the highest suspension rate in the entire state. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board

Yes, I would vote to keep Dr. Kriner Cash on Board because he has a clear vision for this district. I believe he is a great leader. He knows what is needed to make sure students are learning. He is not afraid to set goals or take risks.

TIM HARTIGAN At large

I am running for several reasons, but in the largest picture, our American democracy depends on qualified citizens stepping up to serve and lead, so that’s what I’m doing. My previous service was as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. I taught English at a rural high school there for two years.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I am a 1979 graduate of BPS #27 (now Hillery Park Academy) and have taught at Lafayette High School.

*What endorsements have you received so far?

I have received the endorsement of AFSCME District Local #35.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

  The three most pressing issues facing the new board are making sure that the new BTF-BPS contract is fair to all stakeholders, renewing Superintendent Cash’s contract and improving the graduate rate/decreasing the dropout rate, particularly among refugee/immigrant students. While a BPS-wide graduation rate of 64% is good, it is still below the national average of 82%. We can get there (and do even better!).

  *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

 Former Superintendent Reville’s task force was a good idea and I would support revitalizing such an initiative. To address this issue at the local level as a board member, I would … include the voices of the students who have been suspended in the conversation. As for making African and African-American history a mandatory part of the K-12 curriculum, I must admit that I thought it was already, so if it isn’t, I’d say it’s a good idea. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board

I would vote to renew him for many reasons, one of which is that we need stability at the top … overall, he has been a good leader.

DESMOND NALLS At large

I am running to make the biggest positive impact possible for our students. I want to see change in the way that Buffalo Public Schools prepares our youth with entrepreneurial and workforce readiness skills.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

Yes, I went to Bennett in Buffalo and graduated from Kansas City High School after my family relocated. My children attend Performing Arts and Holy Cross.

*What endorsements have you received so far. 

   I have reached out to several organizations for support with petitioning, fundraising, phone banking and canvassing. I have received confirmation from Citizen Action and GrassRoots.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

1. High suspension rates at the elementary school level.

2. Access to workforce readiness and advanced placement courses in all middle schools and high schools.

3. Disproportionate rates of graduation for low income students and students of color.

  *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? 

Absolutely, we need accountability and oversight on the issue of suspensions. Yes, I support the infusion of African and African American history because students who don’t know their value or ancestral history are subjected to rely on stereotypes about themselves to develop their identity. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board?

Yes. And in the event that Dr. Kriner Cash decides to transition out of his position , I support interim leadership promotion from within to ensure that graduation rates continue to climb and that the Education Bargain is not disrupted.

CAROLETTE MEADOWS At Large

It is time that the community elects people who can relate to them. It has not served residents to elect people that have no identity with them or their struggles. With all that I have  overcome in  life, know that I will bring the same accountability into the board room as I have  in the community. I am not afraid    to assert myself  when advocating for herself, family, or others. I am  woman of integrity who will stand on principle in the face of adversity.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I am  a graduate of the Buffalo Public School (BPS) system, a single parent of two children who have been enrolled in this same system.

*What endorsements have you received so far?

The Buffalo News

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues sf facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

Graduation rates, a top and salary heavy City Hall administration, and a lack of mental health staff.

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? 

Black and African history is not enough. Africans and descendants of the diaspora have contributed to science, art, music, and mathematics, therefore instruction should be all-encompassing. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020.Will you vote on whether or not to extend  his contract? Would you support keeping Dr. Cash on board?

 I am unsure as to whether or not I would support him staying. I would need to be on the board and have the opportunity to review his track record in its totality. 

PAULETTE WOODS Central

I am running to provide a quality education for all!   I am running to break the School to Prison pipeline, to improve all schools in Buffalo so that all schools

provide an excellent education with diversity and equity.

*Did you graduate from public schools?Yes,   from Lackawanna Wilson School & Lincoln Annex, to Lake Shore Central High School in Angola, N.Y.  I have 23 great nieces and nephews in public schools,. 

*What endorsements have you received so far.

Grassroots Inc., Buffalo Teachers Federation, Citizen Action Inc., Eva Doyle, George K. Arthur, former school board members: Betty Jean Grant, Mary Ruth Kapiask, and Janique Curry. Pastors Michael Chapman, Bishop Badger, Bishop John Young.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

1) Rigorous quality education:   2) Diversity and equity   inside the classroom. We have a global economy; schools should reflect that in teaching all our children.

3) Professional development for our teachers – the biggest factor in improving student achievement is the quality of their teachers. 

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? African and African American infusion into the Buffalo Public School curriculum is a priority of mine.  All children need to see themselves, their culture, and their achievements accurately reflected in the materials used to educate them. All children need to see themselves and others as valuable contributing members of American society.  

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? Yes, he has made significantly improve in the Buffalo school system.

JACK KAVANAUGH At Large

I am running because I have spent my entire life in service to the young people of our community, working with them on the ground and working directly with youth programs around the city. I think students deserve to have an advocate who has spent time with them, not just as a parent or a teacher, but someone to help elevate their voice. I also work extensively implementing trauma informed and restorative practices.

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I graduated from City Honors, also attended Olmsted and Bennett Park Montessori. I   have worked professionally at Bennett, Lydia T. Wright and part time at many others.

*What endorsements have you received so far? 

The People’s Machine.

  *What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance? 

First  school to prison pipeline, particularly for young men of color Second, increasing mental health and social support  in the schools.Third, increasing student engagement and leadership development.

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

Absolutely. For African-American students, working to create a culturally reflective and responsive curriculum is critical to helping them grow into the best adults they can become. For students who are not African-American, it will allow a more complete picture of our American history to be told

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? 

I look forward to extending Dr. Cash’s contract. He has spearheaded some strong initiatives in the district, and we need the continuity of his leadership. 

JEFFREY CONRAD At large

I am the former New York State Director of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), which serves individuals returning home from prison and I saw the classroom to prison pipeline up close. I want to see improved graduation rates, improved math and literacy rates, and expanded services that help families. We need to be better!

*Did you graduate from public schools? 

I did not graduate from the Buffalo Public Schools, nor do my children attend Buffalo Public Schools.   However, I work with over 500 Buffalo Public School students yearly and 67% of the students are from the Eastside of Buffalo. 

*What endorsements have you received so far?

Buffalo News and Betty Jean Grant. I choose not to seek endorsements to remain independent so I could govern objectively. 

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

Math & Literacy Rates; 

Equitable School Staffing and support services; Increased Career & Technical Programs.

*Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

I would absolutely support a new task force to make new recommendations to curve the suspension rates.  I would also be supportive of infusing African American history into the history curriculum. The   Buffalo Public Schools would need to make certain that the changes to the curriculum would be supported for state-wide testing.  

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? 

In general I would be supportive of extending the Superintendent’s contract. However, I would like the opportunity to review past evaluations from the previous board.

KATHY EVANS BROWN East

Board because I am a  proven advocate for all children. I strongly believe in BPS and realize the importance for our children to have a voice in their educational futures. I want to assure a great education for future generations.  

*Did you graduate from public schools?  Yes, Lafayette H.S. My last son graduated from Buffalo Performing Arts. Four others (all boys) graduated from Burgard H.S., South Park H.S., and Hutch-Tech.

*What endorsements have you received so far?

Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, Buffalo Teacher’s Federation and Lovejoy Council Member Richard Fontana

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

Inequalities in schools (alignment and sustainability of resources); lack of diversity in teachers; low graduation rates.

  *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum??

  Absolutely, to revitalize a task force to focus on the issue of suspensions and investigate the problem of why a higher number of African American children are suspended is critical. African American history is important to infuse into the school curriculum because it allows all children to learn about the contributions that were made by African Americans throughout history and the world. It is a learning experience for African American children to feel good about themselves, change mindsets about myths learned about African Americans, particularly negative myths learned from their parents and others. African American children should be expected to be great, and others should expect them to be great as well. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board?

Absolutely, Dr. Cash has made great strides with Buffalo Public Schools since he’s been Buffalo’s Superintendent.

LARRY SCOTT At large

I am running for an At-Large Seat to represent all of our schools and all of our students, regardless of zip code, race, country of origin, primary language, and what they believe in. Buffalo Public Schools are on the rise, but we have a lot of work to do. It is a personal responsibility of mine to be part of the important work of moving Buffalo Public Schools forward with others to provide quality, access, and opportunity for all of our students.

*Did you graduate from public schools?  My parents chose to send me to Catholic Schools. I attended UB for my undergraduate degree and RIT for my Masters Degree.  I have two sons who attend Buffalo Public School #81, kindergarten and third grade.

*What endorsements have you received so far?

Barbara Seals-Nevergold, President of the Buffalo BOE, Legislator April Baskin,  Sharon Belton-Cottman, Theresa Harris-Tigg, Hope Jay, Jennifer Mecozzi, , Lou Petrucci, Paulette Woods, Pat Burke, State Assembly Member, Sean Ryan, State Assembly Member, Peter Savage, Legislator, Joel Feroleto, Delaware Common Council Member, David Rivera, Niagara Common Council Member, Betty Jean Grant, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Citizen Action of WNY, Buffalo Labor Council- AFL-CIO, and We are Women Warriors

What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance? 1. Violence & trauma that students, families, and staff are experiencing. 2. Equity and justice in our education system and other systems which impact education.   3. Getting students to school safely, reliably, and on time, whether taking the bus or walking. 

   *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum?

I wholeheartedly, support mandatory inclusion of African and African American history in the curriculum. I think Buffalo Public Schools have made great strides in this inclusion. 

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020.Will you vote on whether or not to extend  his contract? Would you support keeping Dr. Cash on board?

In his time as Superintendent, Dr. Cash has demonstrated stable and inspirational leadership, clear and methodical vision with the Education Bargain, and necessary and effective collaboration with major stakeholders- parents, teachers, elected and appointed officials in government, faith-based leaders, and community leaders. As a BOE member, I would be open to working with other members to extend Dr. Cash’s contract, and then establishing a succession plan to ensure stability and important leadership when Dr. Cash’s time comes to a close. 

JENNIFER MECOZZI West

I am running because I would like to continue the work I have been part of.  No where’s near done!

Did you graduate from public schools?  I graduated from Lakeshore Sr. High in   Angola, N.Y.  My oldest child went to BPS, and graduated  from Cheektowaga PS.; 2nd graduated from  Middle Early College, 3rd graduated Valedictorian from Middle Early College; my youngest is 8 and goes to PS #95 Waterfront. 3rd grade.

*What endorsements have you received so far??

NYSUT, BTF, AFL-CIO, Peoples Machine, Latino Village, as well as individuals.

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance? 

Too many to prioritize to be honest.  Yet equity, poverty, and attendance stand out as these are core to many issues facing our district.

  *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? 

I would support these efforts, I would hope the great work can inspire change in data, statistics, and narratives throughout the district.

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board

 Dr. Cash has spearheaded, staffed, and guided our district to notable data supported changes of a district riddled with issue.  A few more years of retaining this positive forward motion and we can continue as a district if he chooses to move on later.

LOU PETRUCCI Park

The education that I received from the Buffalo Public schools was second to none. I know many people who had similar experiences but unfortunately not everyone did. I am running to give back to the district.  I want every student to have the same quality educational experience that I did.

*Did you graduate from public schools? Yes, I graduated from the  City Honors and 

I had four (4) daughters who all graduated from City Honors as well-.

*What endorsements have you received so far.

Grassroots, Buffalo Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, Council 35 AFSCME, Local 2651, Local 650, Local 264, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Councilmember Chris Scanlon, Assemblyman Pat Burke, State Senator Tim Kennedy, 

*What do you see as the 3 most pressing issues  facing Buffalo Public Schools today in order of importance?

Continuing the programs that have led to improvements in the district; work to ensure that the dollars are in place to finance these programs; equity in access and opportunity.

  *Would  you support efforts to revitalize a task force and make the infusion of African and African American history a mandatory part of the curriculum? 

Absolutely. I read a lot of history and what is taught in our schools is a pale reflection of actual events that too often downplays the role played by African Americans. A more accurate and robust teaching of history would help children of color connect to their past and all children understand the vital role played by people of African descent.

*The contract for Superintendent Kriner Cash expires in 2020. Do you support keeping Dr. Cash on board? Yes I would extend his contract. Continuity is an important component of success. Dr. Cash has helped to turn the district in the right direction and his efforts should be recognized.