An out-of-town educator with broad experience in urban school districts was selected Wednesday by the Board of Education to become Buffalo's next superintendent, subject to successful contract negotiations.
The board refused to identify the man, saying that will be done only after an agreement is reached.
He began his career as a teacher, became an administrator at an individual school, a district administrator and then a superintendent. He worked in school systems in more than one city.
The candidate, who has a doctorate, has been working in the private sector for the last year or two.
Contract negotiations are slated to begin after the board agrees on a salary and benefit package at a meeting next Wednesday, or possibly at a special board meeting before that.
"I think we'll be able to secure this individual," said Denise Hanlon, chairwoman of the board's search committee. She said contract terms were not discussed during the interviews on Wednesday.
The next superintendent will take office July 1, and the board hopes to finalize a contract promptly. "The sooner the better," Hanlon said. "As quickly as possible."
The board agreed on the choice for superintendent after interviewing him and a second finalist during a five-hour, closed-door meeting.
After reconvening in public session, Board President Florence D. Johnson announced, "It is the consensus of all members of the board" to start contract negotiations.
"We're very pleased as we go forth," Johnson said. "I'm sure the community will be very pleased as well."
The position attracted about 30 initial applicants, and six of them were interviewed by a seven-member search committee, which selected the two finalists who were interviewed Wednesday.
The board promised all candidates that they would not be publicly identified, and chose not to introduce the finalists to the public, even though that is done in many other districts. District representatives said that approach was necessary to attract top candidates.
"As a result, we were able to attract some people to the process who might not otherwise have come forward," Hanlon said.
That confidentially has largely defined the search process, and that was the case again on Wednesday.
The two candidates were given tours of the city but did not meet with city officials, community leaders or district officials.
Board members not on the search committee learned of the candidates by name for the first time Wednesday and saw their resumes just minutes before the interviews. The resumes were collected when the interviews concluded.
The meeting was moved from the board's usual meeting room in City Hall to a second-floor conference room, which has side doors connecting to offices. The candidates came to the interviews through the series of internal doors so they would not be seen by media waiting outside the interview room.
The two most substantive board discussions of the search process were held behind closed doors last August and October, in violation of the state's Open Meetings Law. Wednesday's closed-door meeting was legal since it involved interviews of job applicants and board discussion of those candidates.
The new superintendent will replace Marion Canedo, who retired last June. Yvonne Hargrave, a longtime district administrator, has been serving as interim superintendent since then. Hargrave was not a candidate for the permanent position.
Four of the search committee members are on the Board of Education, and the other three were chosen following consultations between Robert G. Wilmers, president of M&T Bank, and Johnson. Wilmers is funding the search and providing a salary supplement for the next superintendent.