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A CONTRACT FOR CANEDO . . .

The Buffalo Board of Education made the right decision when it unanimously approved a new, three-year contract for School Superintendent Marion Canedo. In the time she has spent as an interim superintendent, she has demonstrated not only an ability to do the job well but the willingness to tackle tough tasks and make needed changes.

While her new salary of $150,000 a year and the perks that go along with the job are generous, they are still no more than the superintendent of a 48,000-student school district should expect.

The across-the-board approval of Canedo as superintendent reflects the job she has done in the short time she's been at the helm. She has earned her chance to meet an even greater challenge, one she already has helped shape -- the challenge of crafting a re-energized and rebuilt school system that does a better job for the children of Buffalo.

The board elected to give Canedo a new contract rather than conduct a nationwide search for superintendent. That position is so important, to the students of the Buffalo school system as well as to the system itself and the city as a whole, that it warrants casting a nationwide net in a search for talent.

But in this instance, at least, the board rightly recognized the homegrown talent already in place and the value of continuity in leadership at a critical time in the redevelopment of the school system. Canedo's vast experience at all levels of the school district means she is familiar with the process, from top to bottom.

And it's a process that Canedo is not afraid to shake up for the good of the students.

She's also willing to take input, as she demonstrated by embracing the Council of the Great City Schools' unflattering review of school operations. Canedo is in the process of a major reinventing of the system. She has been aggressive about involving the community and finding ways to ensure administrators -- particularly principals -- have more autonomy and more accountability.

It will be key for Canedo to get the team she needs, a goal the board supports. After all, as New York State Regent Robert M. Bennett correctly noted, "she's running a big company."

Canedo now needs to act with a sense of urgency to meet the challenge of increasing test scores and increasing learning. Certainly, having the proper facilities in which to learn helps; that's the purpose of the 10-year, $1 billion reconstruction and renovation project the district has begun. But there are other issues as well, including finding a way to bring support services into the schools on a year-round basis.

Canedo offers the kind of leadership and potential to improve Buffalo schools, which is vital to the future of this community.

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