The Buffalo School Board may move its meetings out of City Hall and into community schools to make it easier for residents to attend.
At the board’s Finance and Operations Committee meeting, district administrators said the board needs to decide whether to invest more than $30,000 to upgrade recording equipment in City Hall or spend that money on a new, more portable system for use in public schools.
“The equipment that you see here is 20 years old,” said Sanjay Gilani, chief technology officer. “We need to replace it anyway.”
Board member James Sampson had pushed to have meetings moved out of City Hall and to have both regular board and committee meetings live-streamed on the district’s website.
Some board members debated whether it was necessary to move committee meetings since they don’t draw as large a crowd as regular board meetings.
“I think we, as a body, ought to make ourselves accessible whether people come or not,” Sampson responded.
Gilani said it would cost the district $31,400 to replace its old City Hall equipment and $39,000 to purchase new equipment to record and broadcast meetings outside of City Hall.
It would cost an additional $43,850 to broadcast district committee meetings.
Sampson’s motion will come up for a vote at the next regular meeting.
Also at the Finance Committee meeting:
• Board members spent more than an hour extensively questioning the role of consultant and former interim Deputy Superintendent Mary Guinn.
Several board members said that her role is confusing to district employees and that she appears to be assuming authority that she does not legally possess as a consultant.
• The district discussed the potential relocation of Middle Early College, a five-year high-school program that partners with Erie Community College in which students graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.
The Middle Early College program is the only district program that is housed in a building leased from developer and board member Carl Paladino; the lease is up at the end of December.
Administrators said the plan is to change the program’s focus from a five-year program that allows students to graduate with associate’s degrees to a four-year high school program that would also allow students to take courses and gain credits at SUNY Buffalo State.
The district debated whether the program should be moved into one of two currently vacant buildings: the former School 187 on Clinton Street, and the former School 56 on West Delavan Avenue.
While School 56 is much closer to Buffalo State and has a lower overall operating cost, it would also need more extensive repair and renovation, and would not be ready to open by Jan. 1, said Chief Financial Officer Barbara Smith.
Middle Early College Principal Susan Doyle nevertheless advocated for School 56, saying early-college programs tend to fail when they aren’t near their partnering colleges.
The consensus was to allow students to remain at Middle Early College through the end of this school year.
• During the Executive Affairs Committee meeting, six of Paladino’s resolutions were supposed to have been discussed, but he missed the meeting, so discussion of those resolutions was postponed.