Mary Ruth Kapsiak, the Buffalo Board of Education president who represents the Central District, believes her concern for education and accomplishments warrant another three-year term.
Kapsiak said she’s well aware the board has been criticized for failing to do more to elevate school performance, but she suggested many initiatives are headed in the right direction – and she wants to help implement them.
“There are initiatives I have been a part of that I would like to see come to fruition. I would like to see, within the next three years, our scores go up. I feel I spent six years on the School Board, and there are so many things on the table that need to be finished, and I would like to help with that,” Kapsiak said.
Kapsiak, 71, who has served two terms on the board, spent 26 years as a commercial representative for NYNEX Corp. before entering the workforce in education.
She was a substitute teacher for six years, beginning in 1990. Later, she worked for two years each as a special-education and reading teacher before becoming an assistant principal and later supervisor of elementary education.
Kapsiak earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University at Buffalo, a master’s degree in exceptional education from SUNY Buffalo State and a certificate in reading and school district administration from Canisius College.
Her two children, and one who is deceased, attended schools in Buffalo and Kenmore.
“I offer my experience on the board and my background in education, [where] the fields I concentrated on were areas of need,” Kapsiak said.
Her educational background, she said, covers “key areas that we need to focus on in order to make sure we are improving our schools, because special-ed students are not exempt from the testing that has to be done.”
Kapsiak said her top accomplishments on the board were helping to bring to Buffalo Say Yes to Education, the initiative promising a free college education to all students who qualify, as well as expanding career and technical education and helping put parent facilitators in schools.
She wants to continue to advocate for expanding pre-K education, teacher development and training, and development opportunities in special education and classroom management.
In addition, Kapsiak said she wants to continue to expand the district’s career and technical education programs.
She believes teachers shouldn’t be required to live in the city, maintaining a policy she and the board put in place last year.
“My feeling is if a teacher can teach these children, I don’t care where they come from. Let them come in and teach,” Kapsiak said.
She is in favor of reinstating neighborhood schools, she doesn’t support increasing charter schools because of inequity in funding, and she doesn’t think city taxpayers should contribute more money to district schools.
Kapsiak also said she thought the key to student achievement in Buffalo’s public schools is “to create a safe and nurturing environment,” and she believes Superintendent Pamela C. Brown is on the right track.
She was critical of Distinguished Educator Judy Elliot for not initially sharing a critical report about the Buffalo Public Schools with the board, saying she had “very mixed feelings about the report and its outcomes.”
The Buffalo Teachers Federation Political Action Committee gave Kapsiak $500 of the $700 she has reported so far for her re-election. She has also received the support of Citizen Action.