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PETERS SEEKS TO FILL PRIDGEN'S AT-LARGE SEAT

Jan Peters, the Buffalo Board of Education's Central District member, is expected to be elevated next week to the board's citywide seat being vacated by the Rev. Darius Pridgen.

The board then would select a new member to fill the unexpired portion of Peters' district-seat term.

Peters voiced her desire to fill the at-large seat at a board meeting Wednesday night, and a special meeting was called for Tuesday to consider that option.

Donald A. Van Every, another at-large member, said Peters apparently will get the nod Tuesday.

"I'd say there are five votes to elevate her," Van Every said. "Sure."

Peters also expressed optimism that she will be the board's choice. "It looks promising," she said.

If that happens, the board would have 30 days to fill the Central District seat with a district resident. Both seats will be on the ballot in 2004.

Pridgen, pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church, recently resigned to devote more time to religious matters.

He recommended that the board appoint JoAnn Cole, Western New York education coordinator for the Alliance for Quality Education, to fill the remainder of his term.

Christopher L. Jacobs, president of the South Buffalo Charter School, and Valeria A. Aldridge, co-chairwoman of Parents for Public Schools for three years, also said this week that they planned to apply for the at-large post.

But the entire picture changed when Peters expressed interest in moving to that post. She discussed that possibility with fellow board members at a board retreat Tuesday and stated it publicly at a board meeting Wednesday.

Peters is chairwoman of the board committee that crafted a plan to provide greater school choice for high school students and that is now putting together a plan for elementary school choice. She also is a board liaison with the Joint Schools Construction Board.

Jack Coyle, the School Board president, said that both those activities have broad impact and that Peters' move to the at-large seat makes sense.

The candidacies of Jacobs and Aldridge would become moot if the board appoints Peters to the at-large seat.

In addition to being president of the 3-year-old South Buffalo Charter School, Jacobs is executive director of the BISON Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to 1,200 low-income Buffalo families to send their children to parochial and private schools.

Aldridge said she would stress sound educational practices and fiscal efficiency in a system that has had two consecutive years of deep budget cuts and anticipates a third.

During the public comment session at Wednesday's board meeting, Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, and nine teachers claimed that elementary school pupils are subjected to far too much assessment testing.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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