Give Buffalo Superintendent Pamela C. Brown a gold star for heading off one School Board dispute.
Following the School Board’s inability to set evaluation goals for the superintendent, which were due Sept. 1, she offered to devise her own and the board agreed.
In a sense, it’s like the student who insists on sitting in the front row and raising her hand on a Friday afternoon and asking for more homework. It’s a good sign, and such initiative should be followed on other issues.
Brown suggested that her goals and evaluation be based on the goals outlined in the district’s approved comprehensive plan and five-year strategic plan.
She said she would work out the details and report back next week. Even maverick board member Carl P. Paladino agreed. If he thinks it would be a good process to follow, say no more. Paladino has long criticized the last evaluation of Brown, handled before the new board was seated. The process leading up to Brown’s evaluation of her first year on the job was pure debacle.
That board was a month late in completing the evaluation. Some board members failed to explain why they handed out low scores. On top of that, when the report was finally approved, some board members hadn’t even read it. And then it turned out that the board rated Brown on a three-point scale, when the state requires use of a five-point scale.
Moreover, the board gave no weight to the improper side deal that the superintendent cut with the Buffalo Teachers Federation on teacher evaluations.
Now it’s a new day and a lot has transpired with the new School Board. Brown deserves praise for stepping up and offering to develop specific goals for her own evaluation. She even went as far as to suggest that her evaluation be given in the approved evaluation format outlined in her employment contract, something that the board apparently did not consult before drafting her last evaluation.
Board member John B. Licata’s suggestion, and Brown’s agreement, that the board give her a midyear performance review in January should also be accepted. Board member Sharon Belton-Cottman’s recommendation that board members should explain the reasons for any low ratings should go without saying.
Another recommendation that should be considered is a serious look at benchmarks involving the ability, or in her case, repeated inability, to get school turnaround plans approved by the State Education Department and a central office reorganization plan that is more travesty than transformation.
Brown has stepped up and, in offering a set of evaluation goals, has done one of the jobs the old School Board failed to do.