Teachers' union may halt district's plan for an expanded school year

May 16, 2019

The endless fight between Buffalo's school system and the Buffalo Teachers Federation has escalated over attempts to expand the school year.

This prompt from a Buffalo schools on-line survey has angered teachers. It gives parents only two calendars from which to choose.
Credit Buffaloschools.org

The district wants a 44-week calendar because it allows for some extra days off during the year and there would be a February break. The BTF wants a 42-week year which would do away with the February break, but meet terms in the union's contract. The current school year covers 43 weeks.

School officials angered BTF President Phil Rumore by conducting an online survey asking parents for their thoughts. The survey offered two choices: 42 weeks or 44 weeks.

"This is probably one of the most despicable, underhanded things to try and mislead the public like this, with only two choices," Rumore fumed.

"I've already gotten calls from teachers. The teachers are very angry right now."

The district says it won't go for the 43-week deal which would start classes on September 11 and would not include the February break.

"We've agreed in the past to go above the 42 weeks. So, they have agreed in the past to do that," said district Chief of Staff Darren Brown-Hall. "For example, this year we have a 43-week calendar and during the 2017-2018 school year, teachers began the last week of August for three days."

Brown-Hall said his peers prefer to keep the calendar with a February break.

"The district is leaning toward Calendar A. Calendar A is a 44 week calendar and it has the February mid-winter break, which our teachers, parents and students have grown accustomed to. Calendar B is a 42 week calendar but Calendar B is in-line with the BTF contract. We prefer Calendar A," he said.

The district may not like it but the current contract basically gives the teachers control of the length of the school year. The union says it's a financial matter because the teachers will be paid the same whether it's 42, 43 or 44 weeks and they lose some money if they have to leave a summer job early.