Superintendent Pamela C. Brown said she has no plans to hire consultant Mary E. Guinn as her new second-in-command for the Buffalo School District, even as speculation continues to swirl that Guinn may still have a future with the district.
School Board members said Wednesday afternoon that Brown has told some district leaders this week that she would like to hire Guinn as interim deputy superintendent.
But during Wednesday night’s board meeting, Brown told The Buffalo News, “That is not my plan at this point in time.”
She went on to say that the district is considering whether to renegotiate a short-term transition contract with Guinn’s employer, the Cross & Joftus education consulting firm, or whether to allow the existing contract to simply expire with three months’ notice.
Brown said it’s possible that Guinn might return to the district as a leadership consultant, a role she held before the School Board voted this month to terminate the Cross & Joftus contract. But she said Guinn is not in contention for the vacant deputy position.
“There is not a plan for her to serve in an interim deputy role,” Brown said.
It appears that Brown would be able to appoint a deputy superintendent without board approval, based on state education law, because the district has earmarked money in the budget for the position of deputy superintendent.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, board member Carl P. Paladino tried to gain a commitment from Brown to inform the board of her choice for deputy before she actually hires the person.
Brown said she would “introduce” the person’s qualifications but gave no commitment that she would do so prior to making a final appointment to the job.
There would be hurdles to finding Guinn a permanent place in the administration. Though some board members said Brown has expressed an interest in seeing Guinn take the interim deputy superintendent post, Guinn would have to agree to take the job and, if interested, would have to find a way to extricate herself from her current position as a subcontractor with Cross & Joftus. She also would have to gain New York State certification as a district administrator.
Guinn began serving as interim deputy superintendent in March, though not employed directly by the district. Her Cross & Joftus salary was covered by grants from the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and Say Yes to Education. Her responsibilities included assisting in the search for a permanent deputy superintendent. The district interviewed a number of applicants without hiring.
Instead, Brown asked Guinn to stay in the district as a consultant and agreed to pay her $290,359 – $72,000 more than the superintendent makes – for a year, plus travel and lodging expenses.
This fall, Guinn came under increasing criticism for both her salary and her role in the district. Board members expressed concerns that she seemed to be assuming responsibilities for daily operations beyond her consultant role.
Cross & Joftus has asked to withdraw from its yearlong contract with the district. Brown said that both sides may simply agree to terminate the district’s existing contract with three months’ notice.
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