School board deals with closings, struggling finances

Mar 20, 2014

CFO Barbara Smith delivered bad financial news at Wednesday's School Board meeting.
Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The Buffalo Public School finances are bleak and drastic measures are being taken to deal with academic troubles.

The District's chief financial ifficer Barbara Smith told the boardWednedsay night there's likely to be more money from Albany but it may not even meet rising costs. She's looking at a deficit for next year approaching $50 million.

Pension and employee benefits are growing more than $16 million next year and what we have already received to date is only $15 million more," Smith said.

"It's not enough to cover our increases in benefit cost, much less increases in everything else that we have."

Board Member Carl Paladino wants unions to help by agreeing to shift to Medicare Advantage programs instead of current healthcare, potentially saving millions.

Smith says there are likely to be layoffs, potentially hundreds of layoffs. She spoke during a long and contentious board meeting in Waterfront school.

Board members agreed to close and re-open as different schools both Bennett and Martin Luther King. They rejected a merger of Harvey Austin and the former Pinnacle Charter School.

Superintendent Pamela Brown says she will meet with Pinnacle parents, now city school 115.

"We understand that there are some concerns on the part of the parents," Brown said.

"I made the commitment to go out and meet with the task force to hear more about what those concerns are, beyond the reports that I have gotten from my staff."

School Board Member Carl Paladino suggested that union concessions could ease the district's financial problems.
Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The school board approved putting both Middle Early College and Math Science and Technology Prep into the Seneca building.