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Community forums on superintendent search set for Thursday

Cascade Consulting, the group the School Board hired to find the next superintendent, has scheduled two forums to gather community input.

Both forums will be at 6 p.m. Thursday (March 1).

One is at Waterfront Elementary, 95 Fourth St. The other is at Hamlin Park School 74, 126 Donaldson Road.

Cascade and its partner in the search, Say Yes to Education, have emphasized to the board the importance of gathering community input in the process. They have planned a series of focus groups with various constituencies -- identified by the board -- in addition to the two general community forums.

Those who remember the last search, which resulted in James Williams' appointment, note that any attempts to gather community input will exceed any such efforts (basically, none) along that line during that search.

However, the particulars of the two community forums are also drawing criticism.

For one thing, some people I've heard from say that two forums are hardly enough, given the size of the city.

Beyond that, one of the locations -- Waterfront -- is one of the district's favorite sites for community meetings. It's also one of the most inaccessible via public transportation, which is what many Buffalo families rely on.

Both forums are scheduled for the same time on the same day -- meaning that anyone who might want to attend, but works an evening shift or is busy with their children in the evenings, would not be able to.

And finally, some people point out, the forums were announced just two days before they were scheduled to be held.

"So much for community input," one community activist wryly said to me.

- Mary Pasciak

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