Members of the new Buffalo Board of Education were sworn in at City Hall on Monday. Sharon Belton-Cottman, who represents the city’s Ferry District, was also selected as the new board president.
Five of the nine school board members are incumbents, including Belton-Cottman, who is now the board's longest-serving member. They took their oaths of service alongside newcomers Terrance Heard, Dr. Ann Rivera and Larry Scott—at-large members—and Kathy Evans-Brown, East District representative.
“Being sworn in today is one of the highlights of my life,” said Heard, a former teacher and current employee at General Motors. “I believe that with the heart and my love for God, I think we’re going to make a difference [for] our kids and in our lives and in our community.”
The Buffalo school board oversees Superintendent Kriner Cash and an educational system of more than 60 schools and 33,400 students. Belton-Cottman said she wants to see continued improvement of that system during her tenure.
“Success is what we have to do in this district,” she said. “The only thing that I fear is one more child leaving [the] Buffalo public schools or any school system in Western New York and not being properly prepared for the future.”
Belton-Cottman also said she’s confident the new board will work well together. She received near-unanimous support for the presidency, with the exception of board member Louis Petrucci, Park District representative, who nominated and voted for himself.
“First comes struggle, then comes ease,” Belton-Cottman said. “I worked hard for the past eight years to make this district the district that it is evolving into, and it’s rightfully that I deserve this seat. I earned it.”
Outgoing board president Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold did not seek reelection, and she spoke to WBFO about that decision earlier this year.
Two other appointments were made Monday in the shake-up of the board’s leadership: Jennifer Mecozzi, West District representative, will serve as the new vice president of executive affairs, and newly-elected Dr. Rivera will serve as vice president of student achievement.