Buffalo School Superintendent Pamela C. Brown made her first visit to the city’s control board on Wednesday, and learned that the head of the board is looking seriously at returning to a “hard” status for the district.
Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority Chairman R. Nils Olsen Jr. said that given the district’s dim financial outlook, a move from advisory to control status for the district could be warranted, and noted he was speaking for himself.
“From my perspective, looking at this, I think you’re in imminent fiscal crisis,” Olsen told Brown.
Whether the board can move into “hard” status for a single entity isn’t clear. Olsen expressed concerns about the financial condition of the school district, not the city.
“I wanted to raise the issue so we’d at least be cognizant of it and be moving towards it,” Olsen said after the meeting.
Brown reminded the board that she is in her fifth month as superintendent and asked that her plans be implemented before any decisions are made.
“I do believe we have viable plans to get us through this year,” Brown said.
The control board, created in 2003 by the State Legislature, voted in the spring to relinquish much of its power, effective July 1.
Olsen, who in May was the only board member to vote against moving to advisory status, said Wednesday that he is concerned that the district does not have settled contracts with two of its largest unions, which will likely to be costly to the district once they are settled, and that a disagreement with the Buffalo Teachers Federation over teacher evaluations could cause the district to lose $33.4 million in state aid.
The board’s lawyer, James L. Magavern, said he would look into whether the board can re-enter a control period for just one entity and declined to give an opinion Wednesday.
Authority Member George K. Arthur said no move to resume to a “hard” control board status would take place before the district’s budget is completed, which typically takes place in May or June.