NEWS BLOG: Malgieri and Ansbrow join the Rochester school district. Wow!

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Among the more interesting news over the weekend was the D&C’s report that two heavy-hitters - Patty Malgieri and William Ansbrow - have accepted top administration positions in the Rochester school district.

Malgieri, who is leaving a job at Hillside, will become Superintendent Bolgen Vargas’s chief of staff. Before joining Hillside, Malgieri served as Rochester’s deputy mayor and, earlier, headed the Center for Governmental Research. Ansbrow, who is currently the city’s budget director, will be the school district’s chief financial officer.

This will be interesting to watch. Malgieri is no novice to education; the Rochester school district was among the subjects of CGR’s research when she was its director (as it continues to be). But she has a strong business-oriented approach, has been a strong critic of the district, and was deputy mayor under Bob Duffy as he pushed for mayoral control of the school district.

We’re already hearing that at least some school board members were surprised at the news - and aren’t one bit happy about it. They have no say on the appointments, though; the superintendent picks his top officials without board approval.

I said this was “interesting news.” Actually, it’s a blockbuster, one that will play out slowly - but I’ll bet dramatically - over the coming weeks and months. Among the flash points: the role and power of the school board.

In the past, some boards have wanted to be heavily involved in decisions about operations. Others have taken a more hands-off approach, believing they should stick strictly to policy making. This board tends toward a desire to be heavily involved, something former Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard complained about.

Tension has already been building between Vargas and a few board members over some of Vargas’s proposals - his plan to close School 16, for instance.

I would bet that the business community is delighted with the Malgieri-Ansbrow appointments. But if school board members stay unhappy about them, we’re in for some interesting times.

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