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Decision still not reached about buyout

A $215,000 buyout for the second in command of Buffalo's public schools is still up in the air.

The city's fiscal watchdog stopped short of approving or rejecting the buyout for Deputy Superintendent Folasade Oladele, choosing instead to leave it in limbo.

The Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority voted Monday to table the issue and suggested it is up to the Board of Education to decide the matter.

"They're passing the buck. They can't take a stand," said authority member and former Common Council President George K. Arthur. "They need to take a position."

Authority officials said the Board of Education is prohibited from paying the buyout, which was supposed to take effect Thursday, until after the control board takes final action.

Arthur said the control board, which split 3-3 on the issue, decided the buyout was a policy issue that needed to be addressed by the Board of Education.

That didn't sit well with critics of the deal.

"It's certainly a waste of taxpayers' money," said County Executive Chris Collins, one of three authority members opposed to the buyout. "I'm disappointed it didn't come up for a vote. I don't think the public was well served here."

Mayor Byron W. Brown and Gail E. Johnstone, former president of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, joined Collins in voting against the delay.

"This was not in the best interests of the taxpayers of the City of Buffalo or the children of the Buffalo school district," Brown said afterward.

School Board members approved the buyout, which amounts to a full year's salary and benefits, earlier this month but then suggested they might rescind it at some point in the future.

Oladele, under the terms of her contract, was entitled to only three months' salary if the district chose to buy out her contract before it expires in June 2012.

Voting with Arthur was control board members Frank Mesiah, president of the local branch of the NAACP, and Frederick G. Floss, a finance and economics professor at Buffalo State College.

Mesiah said his vote to table the buyout should not be viewed as support for the controversial deal.

"No," he said, "it's simply to get more information and clarification."

The control board was without three of its nine members Monday.

News Staff Reporter Joseph Popiolkowski contributed to this report.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com