The Buffalo School Board today approved a contract with distinguished educator Judy L. Elliott, agreeing to pay her $190 an hour, plus $275 a day in expenses.

All six board members present at the special meeting voted in favor of the contract. At-large board member Florence Johnson voted yes, "under protest."

"I pray this is not a political move and an exertion of power for increasing one's status," Johnson said, expressing concern over Regent Robert M. Bennett's avid interest in the Buffalo schools.

Superintendent Pamela C. Brown and four board members had a conference call Tuesday with Elliott and Assistant Education Commissioner Ira Schwartz. Brown said that during that call, Schwartz described Elliott's role as that of a facilitator and a consultant. Elliott later called Brown, the superintendent said.

"Dr. Elliott reached out to me," Brown said. "She reiterated that her role was to facilitate, be an extra pair of hands, be serving in a collaborative capacity."

Some board members today said that wanted that in writing.

"I would like us to ask for a response in writing to those questions, and then we can all be clear what the answers were," said at-large board member Barbara Seals Nevergold.

Buffalo is the first district in New York state to have a distinguished educator.