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The right appointment; Nevergold's background and talent should be major boost for School Board

The Buffalo Board of Education is to be congratulated for making the ideal choice in filling the open seat on the board.

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold brings a wealth of experience to the School Board. She is co-founder and co-director of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, as well as an adjunct assistant professor at Empire State College and a former French teacher in Buffalo and Williamsville. She has an impressive record of community service and was co-editor of the book "Go Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady."

Nevergold, 67, will be a thoughtful, intelligent, deliberative leader on a board that often comes up short in those regards.

Board member Rosalyn L. Taylor said Nevergold "brings a lot of qualities to the table. She's very knowledgeable. She has been involved in the community and the educational arena, both as a French teacher, guidance counselor, college professor."

The at-large seat opened up when Christopher L. Jacobs left after being elected Erie County clerk. The remaining members of the board fortunately resisted the past practice of filling an at-large seat by promoting a district board member, and then filling the district seat with an appointee. That practice would have limited the pool of board candidates to residents of a single School Board district at a time when the board needed the best person for the job, not the most convenient.

The appointment is the latest hopeful sign for a troubled school district.

The biggest change agent should be the district's partnership with Say Yes to Education, a private foundation with a record of improving educational outcomes. That wide-ranging program includes a college tuition guarantee for Buffalo's high school graduates.

Buffalo has also won a $6 million Promise Neighborhood grant to improve services in the neighborhood that encompasses Westminster Community Charter, Highgate Heights Elementary and Bennett High schools. And the district is submitting turnaround plans for seven low-achieving schools that could secure $42 million in federal funding.

Despite that good news, the School Board is facing many major issues, including the search for a new superintendent and how to improve low graduation and attendance rates. Nevergold's input on those and other issues will be a boost for Buffalo's schoolchildren.

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