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Profile of Buffalo School Board candidate: Paulette Woods, Central District

Paulette Woods, 63, senior budget examiner for Erie County Probation Department.

Children in Buffalo schools: None.

Experience: Army Reserve for six years; has worked for Erie County since 1981.

Reasons for running: “I’m now with Probation. And what do I have? Thirty-four hundred juveniles again who have gotten into trouble, and we’re trying to stop them from getting further involved with the juvenile-justice system. It’s a problem that a disproportionate number of our youth are being suspended and put out of school and they wind up in these streets … We have to reach these children’s minds. We have to help them to want to be a productive citizen.”

Supporters: County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, former Common Council President George K. Arthur, BUILD of Buffalo President Charley H. Fisher III.

Expected campaign budget: $6,000.


• Thinks that there should be more charter schools in the city.

• Supports extending the school day and school year.

• Thinks the state receivership law – which places the most struggling schools under direct control of the superintendent – has the potential to improve Buffalo schools.

• Opposes using student test results in teacher evaluations.

• Thinks that Superintendent Kriner Cash is doing a “good” job, but notes that since she is not a current School Board member, she has not had the opportunity to evaluate him.

• District priorities for 2016-17 budget should be smaller class sizes for lower grade levels, additional reading teachers and teacher raises to settle union contract.


On education programs: “This region cannot strive or grow if our children are not a viable workforce. So what can we do to make school more attractive? … There’s trades. Career and technical education.

“I’ve had young people come up to me and say there used to be a school where they could come out and be a beautician. They could come out and be a welder. They want life skills training: ‘I can’t manage a checkbook. They sent me credit cards, and now I’m in debt. Why didn’t someone teach me this?’ I ask questions like ‘Everyone’s having children. What happened to parenting classes?’ ”

On school discipline: “The teachers are dedicated. But the teachers need additional training … on innovative ways to reach urban youth. They need better methods other than putting a child out and suspending a child. A child that is suspended is three times more likely to drop out of school in the 10th grade. So I’m saying let’s do things differently. There is a restorative justice approach to discipline. … You make them whole. You don’t kick them out.”

On the long-expired teacher contract and stalled negotiations: “I work for Erie County, I told you I’m in management. … Everybody, every other municipality knows you have to pay 15 to 20 percent of your health care. That’s a significant amount of money that we could take and put toward teachers, lowering class sizes, expanding pre-K and grade 3 education, expanding after-school programs.”

– Tiffany Lankes