Painful budget choices facing Buffalo's public schools have become sharper because Richard Quinn, the system's head of instructional services, plans to give up those duties May 1, Superintendent Albert Thompson said Monday.
Thompson confirmed that Quinn, who has been deeply involved in preparation of the 1995-96 budget, has chosen to return to his previous post as assistant superintendent for special education.
As a result, Thompson said, a new interim associate superintendent for instructional services will take over in the midst of budget deliberations that are likely to result in widespread layoffs and deep cuts in classroom and extracurricular programs.
The new person, who has not yet been named, "will have a lot of work to catch up on," Thompson said. Several administrators are being considered for the position.
In addition to the budget, the associate superintendent will be deeply involved in consideration of reforms suggested last week by the Buffalo Financial Plan Commission; negotiations to end the longtime U.S. District Court desegregation case; state mandates to boost shared decision-making at individual schools; and efforts to make classroom methods and curriculum more effective.
Thompson called Quinn "an excellent administrator," and said efforts to persuade him to retain his present post have apparently failed. "I'm very disappointed he decided not to continue," Thompson said.
Quinn could not be reached to comment. But sources said he felt the instructional position he accepted in November involves too much paperwork and not enough time in school buildings.
"The job he's doing is not what he originally expected it to be," said a source close to the situation. "It doesn't allow him to do the things he wants to do."
Quinn, a former Buffalo principal, accepted the interim post after Mary Elizabeth Dougherty retired and the School Board bought out the four remaining years on her contract.
Quinn was expected to serve until the end of this school year or next September, and to bridge the gap until a permanent associate superintendent was chosen.
However, advertisements for the post failed to turn up acceptable candidates, and it could be well into the 1995-96 school year before a full-time replacement is found, sources said.
"We have to have that position filled by someone who's knowledgeable about the business of the district," said a source who asked to remain anonymous. "My problem is, if Quinn does leave, who do we replace him with?"
Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, said Quinn is doing "an excellent job," and is well-served by his varied experience with the district.