Emergency meeting draws a large crowd

Mar 13, 2012

An emergency meeting in Common Council Chambers over the possible loss of funding for Buffalo's neediest schools drew more than a hundred people last night.

Unless the school district reaches a deal with its unions on a teacher evaluation plan that Albany will accept by next week, $9 million will be lost.

The deadline for having a teacher evaluation system in place is coming up next week.

Along with the millions at stake, Buffalo could also lose out on an additional $50 million in aid next year unless there's an agreement.

Hannya Boulos, Executive Director of Buffalo ReformED, says the impact of student attendance in the process has been largely overstated.

Boulos says a teacher could only be rated ineffective if 90 percent of the their class fails.

But if that's a problem she says attendance could be weighted.

"In this way, teachers have the same incentives to teach to each student present in each class each day. There's no reason to ignore chronically absent kids and no penalty for teachers if students are chronically absent. In a sense, everyone wins."

Council member Darius Pridgen says the teachers union should fight each negative evaluation as it comes.

Pridgen says he and other parents would step-up for good teachers.

"We cannot lose millions of dollars so I encourage: accept the plan, fight each case and I think we would stand by those teachers who are doing a great job and are unfairly evaluated."

District Parent Coordinating Council President Sam Radford says the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the State Education Department are the two parties that can resolve the issue.

"We know a solution is possible because adults created the system, adults are the ones who operate the system, so adults, if they commit to a solution, can create a solution."