Paladino Fights for the People at School Board Meeting

March 10, 2011 Updated Mar 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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March 10, 2011 Updated Mar 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM EDT

"We have a $62 million deficit," said Superintendent Dr. James Williams to a crowd of parents, students and community members attending the school board meeting.

It is a deficit that is one of the factors forcing the closure of several schools in the district, including Campus West located at Buffalo State University.

"It's real folks and the only two things we have control over are buildings and people," said Williams.

Even though he did not sign up to speak, former republican candidate for governor and businessman Carl Paladino demanded answers from the board about the closure of Campus West.

"Has the board ever ruled on the closure of Campus West? They (the public) are entitled to know. The board sets the policy for this district. Has the board ever ruled on that?"

The answer is no, the board never voted to close Campus-West because they didn't have to. The 15 year lease between Campus West and Buffalo State expires at the end of the year and the lease simply won't be renewed. The 700 students will be filtered to various schools across the district which will save the district $965,000 a year in lease payments.

But, Paladino doesn't buy that. He claims board member Florence Johnson and superintendent Williams wanted to shut down the school regardless of the lease expiration.

"They told the president of Buffalo State...told him that the board wanted to move the school. The board was never consulted, never voted on that issue. They knew nothing about it," claimed Paladino.

Another important fact to point out, Campus West was named on the state's list of "Persistently Low Achieving Schools," which means the school has had a graduation rate less than 60 percent for the past 3-years. As a result of that designation, superintendent Williams is required to implement a state approved intervention method, and one of those methods includes closing the school down.