The Buffalo Teachers Federation is crying foul over a district decision to reduce the number of teachers at City Honors.
BTF President Philip Rumore said the reduction comes after the district broke off negotiations, regarding teachers who were asked to perform "non-teaching duties," such as monitoring bathrooms, halls, and locker rooms; contacting the parents of students with attendance issues; and collecting bottles and cans for recycling. The union head said many of these duties were "newly created" by the principal at City Honors and they take away from teaching.
An arbitrator ruled City Honors teachers no longer have to perform non-teaching duties, but this has forced the district to trim five-and-a-half teaching positions by the end of this month to cover the cost of hiring 16 teacher aides at the school.
In a letter to Rumore, school district General Counsel Nathaniel Kuzma said building staff have now been assigned such duties, so negotiations are "moot."
As a result and to balance the school's budget, "teachers have been notified that their positions will be reduced from the building as of February 27."
“We presented an offer to the district. We suggested an outside mediator to mediate the dispute and also while that’s being done, put any legal proceedings on hold, and also put any transferring of the teachers on hold, but that was rejected by the district as being ‘moot’," Rumore said.
But Kuzma tells WBFO News the "three-pronged" proposal submitted by Rumore called for mediation that would only delay the matter as the teachers are scheduled to be transferred out of City Honors by February 27.
"Mediation would delay the process. We don't want to cut teachers," Kuzma explained. "We want a global solution that is in everyone's interest."
"The time is now for the adults to sit down at the table and resolve this matter," Kuzma remarked.
Associate Superintendent of Leadership Sabatino Cimato tells WBFO News the cuts are the only way City Honors Principal Dr. William Kresse can cover the cost of hiring the aides to balance the school's budget.
"The administration at City Honors was put in the unfortunate circumstance where they had to balance this budget. He’s balancing this budget anyway that he can and there’s no body that’s more broken up about it then the district and the building administration, they don't want to see their kids faced with this at this point," Cimato explained.
The City Honor teachers would not be replaced this shool year.
"The hardest people hit here are the students. It’s very unfortunate," Cimato noted.
Meanwhile, City Honors parents say the planned teacher cuts at their school would cause a major disruption for students. The parents issued a letter to the district, BTF, Dr. Kriner Cash and Dr. William Kresse from hundreds of parents who are "alarmed and deeply concerned over the staff cuts that have been announced." The parents are demanding a resolution to keep those teachers in place this school year.