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CITY SCHOOL BOARD IS DOING ITS DUTY BY TAKING A HAND IN HIRING OF AIDES

State Education Law gives all boards of education, except New York City's, the right to hire associate superintendents without the recommendation of the superintendent. This right notwithstanding, no associate superintendent has been appointed in the Buffalo Public Schools without recommendation of the superintendent since the advent of the elected School Board in 1974.

How long this will continue, only time will tell. However, nothing the board did at the Nov. 28 meeting even remotely addressed this policy. All the board did was to direct the personnel department to solicit applications for these positions.

The policy of Superintendent Albert Thompson during the past year has been to "invite" a select few to apply for positions. The majority of the board feels that it is wrong for a public, equal-opportunity employer to fill administrative positions in this manner.

A News Dec. 3 editorial suggests the board action will "deny the superintendent the right to pick the aides he can best work with to run the schools effectively." This is ironic in view of News comments on appointment of an executive assistant to the superintendent a year ago. When asked to advertise for the position, Thompson steadfastly refused and practically insisted the board members follow his recommendation. This they did.

In a Dec. 20, 1989, editorial, The News severely criticized this action. It appears that the board is "damned if it does and damned if it doesn't."

The News' recent allegation that lowering the requirements for one of the associate superintendent's positions "makes it easier to hire a less qualified person" indicates a lack of understanding.

The position in question, associate superintendent for finance, personnel and research, now requires five years of teaching experience and a school district administrator's certificate. It is quite obvious that very few, if any, fiscal people -- such as MBAs or CPAs -- meet these educational requirements.

The need to fill this position with someone familiar with municipal accounting is evident from hearings on the board's petition for additional funding for the 1988-89 school year. U.S. District Court Judge John T. Curtin requested detailed financial data. This was never forthcoming and led to criticism by the judge.

This, and other similar incidents, convinced the majority of the board members of the need to have the financial affairs of the board administered by a person with sound fiscal background.

OSCAR SMUKLER
Member
Buffalo Board of Education

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