Arbitrator rules in favor of City Honors teachers

Sep 24, 2018

An on-going labor dispute between the Buffalo Public Schools and teachers union has heated up once again. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says it involves some teacher transfers at City Honors School.   

City Honors School in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

An arbitrator ruling says the Buffalo Public School District retaliated against teachers at City Honors. 5.5 teaching jobs were cut this school year, 2018-2019, in order to hire teacher aides. But the city school district said it transfered 3.5 positions over the summer, not 5.5. that was proposed earlier this year. 

Under the union contract, teachers at city honors are not required to conduct non-teaching duties. The school district insisted it needed to transfer the teachers to pay for the aides.

“It’s sad that they did that, but it’s not surprising to me that they should be found guilty,” stated Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore.

Rumore is declaring victory.

Classroom at City Honors School.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

“By cutting the teachers only at City Honors to fund this and hurt not only teachers, but the kids – that’s sad, especially when you have an $60 to $80 million surplus that you could have easily funded this as you have in the past,” remarked Rumore. 

A judge had ruled over the summer the district could transfer the teachers out City Honors. But now the arbitrator's ruling state's the district must rescind its decision and return those teachers.

“It says right here the district should also rescind its decision to eliminate 5.5 positions at City Honors because those cuts effected the quality of education programs afforded to the students,” Rumore replied.

Those teacher transfers involved positiosn in Math, music and English Language Arts. In the 2017-2018 school year there was a great deal of outcry from parents and students against the transfers.

The District issued a written statement to WBFO News in response to the ruling. It was submitted by the District's general counsel, Nathaniel Kuzma.  

"The District will continue to strive toward its goal of ensuring that all the schools in the District receive equitable resources.  There are no actions that need to be taken by the District to comply with the arbitrator’s decision as no teachers at City Honors were moved during the 2017-2018 school year.  Furthermore, the 2018-2019 budget that also included teacher reductions at City Honors was adopted by the Board after recommendations were made by the school based management team.  The District intends to appeal the Arbitrator’s decision so it may continue to make student-centered budgetary decisions," Kuzma stated.

You can read the full decision by clicking here.