Sunday, April 1, 2012
Buffalo schools funding increase, still hiring freeze and lay offs looming
State lawmakers modified the budget this week allocated an additional $200 million to the neediest school districts instead of doling it out on a competitive basis as Gov. Andrew Cuomo had previouly proposed. Buffalo would receive a 3 percent increase, including another $1 million in "bullet" aid targeted to high need districts. Still the district has a budget gap of under $40 million said Chief Financial Officer Barbara Smith, "they're trying to focus this year on cuts that impact the classroom minimally." The School Board passed a hiring freeze resolution along with offering a $10,000 retirement incentive to teachers. As usual the non-mandated areas suffer the most cuts that impacts the overall academic achievement of Buffalo schools children similar to 2005, when the librarians, school counselors and attendance teachers were laid off. While, librarians and counselors had to be recalled after they protested their wrongeful lay-off, the attendance teachers were not recalled untill six years later. This time lapse created a culture of absenteeism that continues to plague the district and was the subject of many studies and reports, including the district having to hire a consultant to study the problem last spring. If the attendance teachers are laid off again, the state would have to either take over the schools because too many schools will appear on the persistently low achieving list or the former proposal based on a network of charter schools revisited.