Tonawanda News

Local News

March 3, 2008

SCHOOLS IN FLUX: City of Tonawanda’s turnover has some parents concerned

It’s no secret — the Tonawanda City School District has had a rather difficult nine months. The district’s teachers are working without a contract, although a settlement may be near, and several administrators have departed from different buildings.

Last month, it was learned that Superintendent Barbara Peters was searching for and, in fact, has been offered a new position in another district.

Peters is likely leaving Tonawanda — the city she and her husband have called home for nearly 20 years — for a school system she has yet to name because details of the offer she’s received are still being worked out. She has declined to comment on the matter until a decision has been reached.

Her possible resignation comes five months after Susan Frey left her post as high school principal in November to further her career as an assistant superintendent in Depew. And during an emotional school board meeting last June, the resignations of two elementary school principals — Rebecca Todd at Highland and Kathleen Emhof at Riverview — were tendered.

Given all of this, some are wondering what’s going on in Tonawanda schools and whether there’s something telling about the fact that Peters is moving on after only two years on the job. Has the fact that district teachers have worked for two sometimes tumultuous years without a contract strained relations between the school board and top administrators? Is it because declining enrollment has led to talk of closing an elementary school?

Finding answers

The answer to it all, according to School Board President Jim Weber, is that it’s more coincidence than anything.

“Overall, right now it looks like there’s a lot of turmoil, but there really isn’t,” he said.

During that meeting in June, several people said that Todd appeared to be forced out of her post at Highland. Some even cried during the meeting. When asked if Todd was coerced to resign, Peters was quoted in a Tonawanda News story as saying, “You’ll have to ask her that.”

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