With Mr. Jacobs’ recent resignation, the Buffalo Board of Education must fill its third vacant at-large seat in under a year. As you know, it has been a past practice of the board to move an existing district representative to the at-large seat, and fill the district seat with an eligible outside candidate.
We the undersigned urge you to break with past practice, and open the interview process to the wider community in order to create a more democratic and representative process.
With Mr. Jacobs’ resignation, 1/3 of the Board of Education will be appointed rather than directly represented. Furthermore, Mr. Jacobs’ seat is an at-large seat, which means he was elected by, and represents, the city as a whole, not one district. By limiting the eligible candidates to a district seat, a stronger voice is given to certain constituents over others. The Board of Education should represent all parents equally; it should not limit candidates to one district at such an important time when schools are struggling across district lines. Our elected board is made up of district seats and at large seats for a reason. It provides for a system of checks and balances. Moving individuals out of their district positions to become at-large representatives, especially after voters elected them to those seats, disrupts and challenges that balance of power, and makes for an unrepresentative process.
The Board has made great strides in making the process of appointing new members more transparent; to preclude candidates from interviewing for the position, based on geography and a predetermination of the board would be a major step backwards.
We urge you to continue this trend in transparency by seeking community-minded candidates from across our city, and holding public interviews to determine the representative who will best serve Buffalo’s students and parents. Interested standing members of the board should be allowed to interview alongside outside candidates.