Quinn and Rumore: No to mayoral control

Buffalo School Board Member Larry Quinn and Phil Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation, discussed their differences of opinion – and some agreements – Wednesday at a luncheon sponsored by Investigative Post.

Here’s what they agree on: Mayoral control of Buffalo schools is a bad idea and reducing class sizes should be a priority.

And they’d both give a “C-” to the overall quality of city schools.

Quinn was particularly critical of the health benefits currently in place for Buffalo teachers, which he said cost the district more than $19,000 per policy each year.

“It makes me sick to think of the $70 million we spend each year on retirees’ health insurance,” he said.

He also said a more effective system is needed to rate teacher performance.

And while he and Rumore agreed that the city’s high poverty rate creates particular challenges for schools and that increased funding is necessary for a turnaround, Quinn said the district needs to “get its act together” before asking for any more money.

Rumore said it’s a mistake to think that the solution to the school district’s woes is simply picking the right teachers without considering the conditions in which they’re teaching.

He said the emphasis should be early grade intervention, “so that you graduate elementary school ready for high school.”

When it comes to a new superintendent, Quinn favors the swift installation of Emerson Principal James Weimer, whereas Rumore said the district has nothing to lose from a broader search.

Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said during the Q&A session that she and other members of the School Board minority were being excluded from decision making around the new superintendent.

“I have not been included in the process regarding Mr. Weimer,” she said.

You can find more coverage of the event from WBFO and The Buffalo News.

Wednesday’s discussion was moderated by Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney. The event was part of Investigative Post’s “At Issue” series that continues May 13 with a happy hour panel discussion on challenges facing Buffalo schools.

Panelists will include David Rust, executive director of Say Yes to Education; William Kresse, principal of City Honors School; and Eve Shippens, science teacher at Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute.

The event starts at 6 p.m. at Flying Bison Brewing Co., 840 Seneca St., near Larkinville. Admission is $10 and includes a drink. Order tickets here.