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Superintendent search should involve community

The upcoming search for a new superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools should involve strong communication between the Buffalo Board of Education and the people of Buffalo. Since James A. Williams will be leaving at the end of the 2011-2012 school year on negative circumstances, it is important that the entire community is involved in the search so that the board can earn the community's trust and faith.

Other school districts have used town hall-style meetings or surveys to communicate with stakeholders to get their input on what they feel are important qualities for the next superintendent and what direction the district should go in. Those districts wanted to show the importance of building a relationship between the board and the community.

Building a renewed relationship is one of the most important aspects right now for the Buffalo Board of Education, because many people -- students, parents, teachers and community members -- feel a disconnect with the superintendent and the board. This disconnect must end in order for us to move forward. New School Board President Louis Petrucci vowed to open up the lines of communication. This is a great opportunity for the board to reconnect with the community.

One of the most important qualities the next superintendent will need is passion and a determination that our schools can and will succeed. No more excuses of being strangled by the New York State Department of Education or the Buffalo Teachers Federation. We need a proactive superintendent who vows to always put students first and refuses to accept failure.

We need a superintendent who doesn't try to justify failure but one who will push the envelope and challenge our district, teachers, students, parents, politicians and the entire community to come together and strive for excellence. Michelangelo once said, "the greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

Why can't we set the bar high for a superintendent with a background in education, finance, business, personnel, customer service and politics? Why don't we deserve all those qualities in a superintendent? Buffalo has experienced its fair share of negativity and it's time for some positive leadership coming from someone who won't let petty politics or special interests define his or her superintendency.

We need not just a leader but almost a hero to emerge and actually get something done, not bring everyone together and make it seem as though things are being done. We need a leader/hero to realize enough is enough and it's time that everyone makes a concerted effort to get our schools back on track.

The longer we wait and play education policy games, the bleaker the future of our children, our city and our future will remain.

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Alan Wynia is community outreach specialist at Buffalo ReformED.

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