James M. Sampson, 68, retired CEO of Gateway-Longview child welfare agency.
Children in Buffalo schools: None.
Experience: Board president; on the board since 2013.
Reasons for running: “Over the past year and a half, we’ve made some substantial progress. … A couple of highlights: Graduation rates are up; we’ve been able to move a number of schools into good standing. I think we have a superintendent who is really up to the task and providing good leadership, and I would like to continue working with him.”
Supporters: Buffalo Niagara Partnership, 43x79 business group, Students First, School Board’s majority bloc.
Expected campaign budget: $20,000.
ON THE ISSUES:
• Does not think that there should be more charter schools in Buffalo.
• Supports extending both the school day and school year.
• Supports state’s receivership law – which places the most struggling schools under direct control of the superintendent – because it has the potential to improve Buffalo schools and because Albany’s backtracking on reform “gets in Buffalo’s way.”
• Supports using student test results in teacher evaluations and deciding which schools should be in receivership.
• Thinks that Superintendent Kriner Cash is doing an “excellent” job and “did a good job of assembling people despite having a hard time recruiting people nationally.”
• District priorities for 2016-17 budget should be smaller class sizes, more reading teachers and teacher raises to settle the union contract. IN HIS OWN WORDS:
On the divided School Board: “We get a lot of criticism for the board being very divisive, and a lot of that is well-earned, for sure. But in a couple of areas I think we’ve been able to reach incredible, unanimous opinions.
“One of those is the hiring of Dr. Cash. … Secondly, as he’s laid out his … new bargain, the educational bargain for Buffalo … that, too, is being embraced unanimously by this board. … Thirdly, I think there’s a great deal of consensus within the board about how best to approach that vexing problem of the union contract, the lack of a union contract.”
On the long-expired teachers contract and stalled negotiations: “After 11 years, I still don’t see union leaders getting serious about the contract. I heard (the Buffalo Teachers Federation) won’t meet with the district until after the elections.”
On the board’s legal battle with LPCiminelli and its lawsuit to recoup money on the $1.3 billion school reconstruction project: “I voted for it. I can’t talk much on it (because of the litigation). … We need information to close out the project. I think it’s unfortunate. We would like to see it not happen again.”
– Deidre Williams