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Profile of candidate for Buffalo School Board: Colleen E. Russell, East District

Colleen E. Russell, 36, freelance photographer.

Children in Buffalo schools: Two at Lovejoy Discovery School 43.

Experience: Volunteer positions at Lovejoy as parent facilitator and member of budget committee, site-based management team and health and wellness team.

Reasons for running: “I’m a parent facilitator at School 43, and I’ve been doing that for about three years now, and I’ve made quite a positive impact at the school level, and I feel as if I can make a good impression and impact at the district level, as well.”

Supporters: Aligned with School Board’s majority bloc, endorsed by members Carl P. Paladino and Larry Quinn.

Expected campaign budget: $2,500.


• Supports more charter schools in Buffalo.

• Favors extending the school day and school year.

• Does not think that state receivership law – which places the most struggling schools under direct control of the superintendent – can improve Buffalo schools.

• Opposes using student test results in teacher evaluations.

• Thinks that Superintendent Kriner Cash is doing an “excellent” job.

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


On taking sides on the divided School Board: “I think I agree with the majority more than the minority at this point. They have a long list of accomplishments.”

On what she sees as the majority’s accomplishments: (Hesitates to answer for 37 seconds before checking her phone.) “I have it in my phone, I typed it. I have all these notes in my phone. OK, so this is what I had: ‘They increased the graduation rate from 46 to 61 percent, they finished the 2015 operating year in the black. …’ ”

On contract negotiations with teachers: “I see it from both sides where the angst is, and I think that there can be a common ground, and we just have to get there.

“We have to sit down and start talking about this and get it done so that these teachers gain back the motivation they need to teach our children.”

On the board’s legal battle with LPCiminelli over the $1.3 billion school reconstruction project: “I think that it’s very important that Ciminelli is held responsible and is made to follow their contract and what they were supposed to do as far as revealing their finances. … “I think I read they were supposed to send in monthly reports on money that was being spent, and that never happened during the 10 years that they were doing the school project. So I think (the lawsuit) needs to continue.”

– Deidre Williams

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