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Profile of candidate for Buffalo School Board: Patricia A. Elliott, East District

Patricia A. Elliott, 47, assistant director at Community Action Organization of Erie County.

Children in Buffalo schools: one at Emerson High School.

Experience: Volunteer with District Parent Coordinating Council and hosted its “Roundtable” talk show; parent facilitator, Parent Teacher Organization president, served on district “code of conduct” committee, and helped write Waterfront Elementary School turnaround plan when child attended that school.

Reasons for running: “I think now is the time. It’s now the most natural step for me is to take this experience, and love that I have for the children in our district to make sure our children get the best education possible.”

Supporters: Buffalo Local Action Committee, Grassroots political organization.

Expected campaign budget: $750 to $1,500.


• Supports more charter schools in Buffalo.

• Favors extending school day and school year.

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

• Supports using student test results in teacher evaluations.

• Thinks that there is no objective basis to rate Superintendent Kriner Cash because it is too early in his tenure.

• District priorities for 2016-17 budget should be additional bus aides, smaller class sizes and more reading teachers.


On taking sides on a divided School Board: “It’s not for me to decide which one of the board members are good or bad, right or wrong. … That’s for the people who vote for the board members to decide.”

On the long-expired teachers contract and stalled negotiations: “They got the Cadillac of all contracts. They got a retirement plan that won’t quit. They have this health plan that’s a diamond. Why would they want a new contract? …

“The dollar-and-cents amount at the end of the year that they’ve been paid, it may not equal up to the amount that some other school districts may get on the outskirts. But the people on the outskirts, they’re paying for their health care. They don’t have the cosmetic rider. … They don’t have all the other fringes that our district gets.”

How community would judge her effectiveness on board: “The worst thing happening in our district is the fact that it’s not diverse enough. We have 91 percent white, suburban teachers teaching 80 percent black and brown children. This is not a race thing. … Where is the communication? Where is the ‘see eye-to-eye’? Where is the ‘I had the same experience, too’? It’s not there. …

“I think we need to diversify the teaching, and I think one way teaching can be diversified is to begin recruiting from within the district.” (District figures show that the teaching staff is 85 percent white.)

– Deidre Williams