A call for a new teachers contract to focus on students

Dec 8, 2014

The Buffalo Board of Education is still waiting for a fact-finding report on the Buffalo teachers contract.  WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says as the board awaits the information, there is a call for changes in a new teacher contract that would focus more on students. 

"We're long overdue in having a meaningful contract that's going to be a win-win for everyone," said Bryon McIntyre, Vice President of the District Parent Coordinating Council in Buffalo and a former substitute school teacher and parent. McIntrye says the next teachers contract should benefit students, providing a better and sound education, while supporting city teachers.

Bryon McIntyre, Vice President of the District Parent Coordinating Council, recently joined the Buffalo Niagara Partnership calling for a new teachers contract that puts children first.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"Giving support to teachers and administrators to create a learning environment that's not stifled, not restricted by antiquated laws and rules that don't even apply anymore," said McIntrye. 

McIntyre, who ran unsuccessfully last May for an at-large-school board seat, said it's important for the Buffalo Teachers Federation and its members to realize advise from the parent group is not against teachers or administrators. 

"I don't care if it's Ronald McDonald that educates my child," said McIntyre. "This is not anti-anything. This is pro-children."

"I don't care if it's Ronald McDonald that educates my child," said McIntyre. "This is not anti-anything. This is pro-children."

Those seeking changes to the union contract say it's time to create 'learning centers' for Buffalo Public School children.

Last week a report issued by StudentFirst New York offered a full review of more than decade old teachers contract with the Buffalo Teachers Federation with the support of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. 

The report recommends a longer school day, higher starting pay for city school teachers and removing outdated provisions including cosmetic surgery.  

Buffalo School Board president James Sampson tells WBFO News board members don't know when the fact-finding material on the union contract will be ready.

"We had anticipated it probably about a month ago. Then it was delayed until two weeks ago, then we were hoping it was going to be Thanksgiving week. So at this point we just don't know when it's going to come and I think the sooner the better so both sides -- both the district and the union can be analyze what's in there and give some kind of response and perhaps it will create a framework for further discussions," said Sampson.

The current teachers contract expired more than a decade ago with no success with past superintendents in completing a negotiations with the teachers union and Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore. 

WBFO News asked Sampson how the District will work to tackle Rumore in the contract talks.

Buffalo Teachers Federation Phil Rumore appeared this fall before the Buffalo School Board.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"I think we've got to look for what are those areas that there are some common areas of agreement," stated Sampson. "We both agree, both the district and he and the union leadership, that having a contract that having a contract that is ten years old is s just not fair or reasonable."

Sampson said he believes parents will be one of the keys in negotiating a contract that is meaningful for students.  But Sampson is also points out support from stakeholders and Buffalo's business community.

"When you have two groups that can be dispirit, like the parent advocacy group versus Buffalo Niagara Partnership, come together and advocate for the same thing, that's a powerful voice and I think we that we are all listening to that," said Sampson.      

"And when you have two groups that can be dispirit - like the parent advocacy group versus Buffalo Niagara Partnership come together and advocate for the same thing - that's a powerful voice and I think we that we are all listening to that," said Sampson.

Sampson is calling for a 21st century teachers contract that he says will allow teachers to be true professionals and help lead schools, a contract that reinforces student performance and teaching.