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Profile of Buffalo School Board candidate: Austin Harig, Park District

Austin Harig, 18, senior at Hutchinson-Central Technical High School.

Experience: Owns Silver Cloud Media, an online marketing business.

Reasons for running: “I’ve been in Buffalo Public Schools. I’m a product of the Buffalo Public Schools. I know what it’s like to be in them. And the kids that I’ve met there, they’re just amazing, and they can be so successful.”

Supporters: Buffalo Teachers Federation, AFL-CIO, Stonewall Democrats of Buffalo, New York State United Teachers.

Expected campaign budget: $10,000.


• Does not think that there should be more charter schools in Buffalo.

• Opposes extending either the school day or school year.

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

• Opposes using student test results in teacher evaluations.

• Thinks that Superintendent Kriner Cash is doing a “good” job but that it’s too early in his tenure to adequately rate him.

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


On the divided School Board: “There’s so much disharmony on this board right now. … There’s a majority and a minority. I don’t believe that should exist at all. I believe that there should be a School Board. Not majorities. Not minorities. Not people who fight. … What happens is, it’s hurting us kids. … I’m in the city schools, so I perhaps know that better than anyone. You know when you have a board that’s as dysfunctional as this board has gotten, it’s going to stress out our kids.”

On school receivership: “It stresses out the teachers who become scared for their jobs if their schools go on the receivership list. … They get labeled as failures if they don’t perform well on these Common Core tests. … And they basically feel like they are not cared about by the system.”

On former Superintendent Pamela C. Brown and charter schools: “She put many policies in place which actually ended up improving our graduation rate. … Her numbers are coming out now, and it’s showing that she, during her tenure, improved the graduation rates from … like, 49 percent to maybe, like, 60 percent, and they kicked her out. They kicked her out because she wouldn’t go along with the Carl Paladino majority pro-charter policy. … (Board President) James Sampson owns a charter school, he told me at a forum at Tapestry Charter School. Carl’s son owns a charter school, and Carl owned it before.” (Sampson was a founder and serves on the board of West Buffalo Charter School; Paladino’s Ellicott Development has leased property to charter schools, but he has set up a trust for his children to receive any income, and school district attorneys have said that there is no conflict of interest.)

– Tiffany Lankes