What better description of someone wearing two hats than "Czar" of the district! After all, not one, but three district officials will assume his responsibilities, as his job will be divvied up.
Crosby's departure was reported yesterday in the Buffalo News by veteran reporter, Peter Simon (here), in an article that can be best described as a press release for Gary Crosby.
Simon is an excellent and fair reporter, so I was surprised that this piece read so fawningly of Mr. Crosby's tenure with the district, e.g., Crosby "stabilized the [district's] finances", "expanded classroom initiatives" (no examples given), "avoided forced layoffs." And, not one, but multiple quotes were proffered from Mr. Crosby and Superintendent James Williams.
This write-up made me long for the cacophonous Buffalo Teachers Federation President, Phil Rumore, for balance and perspective.
Whatever the accomplishments of Mr. Crosby's leadership in the district, this article also omits mention of the omnipresent Buffalo Control Board, a creation of the state legislature to oversee and keep a lid on city and school district finances. The luxury of having a Board such as this is a CFO's best friend, which gives him cover and backing to make necessary decisions.
Gary Crosby was a product of the private sector before his five years at City Hall. Unfortunately, this pedigree did not favorably influence his views of charter schools, which were indistinguishable from a lifelong bureaucrat. That is, charters he viewed as an extra cost and burden to the district, even though the district's lopsided 80 percent state aid ratio more than nullified this impact since charters get only two-thirds of what district schools spend per student. This funding inequity was exacerbated by the state "freeze" in the charter funding formula supported by Crosby that cut $10 million from Buffalo's charter schools. That money instead remains in the district's bank account.
More recently we heard from Gary Crosby when he published an op-ed last month in the Buffalo News (May 13) praising audits by the State Comptroller's office, and was critical of charter schools and me, by name, for suing the Comptroller to stop such audits of charters. This article was written on the eve of the Comptroller's auditing the Buffalo district, so it read to me like he was looking to soften up the auditors for what may be found. Crosby also was poised to throw his predecessors under the bus for what he described as the "many, many years of neglect" he inherited when he assumed the CFO job -- in 2004.
The OSC audit of the Buffalo district's finances will be out long after Mr. Crosby's imminent exit. His successors can take a page from his op-ed and now blame him for the problems the Comptroller auditors find.
The Chalkboard hasn't written about any other school district finance/operations officer, so I thank Gary Crosby for the opportunity and the fun of all that. I also wish him well in his next professional endeavor, and best wishes to his three successors.
Dasvidania to the Czar.
for The Chalkboard
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