BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo School District is broke the news to parents and staff Wednesday night that a multi-million dollar deficit could lead to job cuts next year.
The district must adopt a budget by May 12, and with a $49 million deficit, Buffalo Schools Financial Director Barbara Smith is projecting between 123 and 390 full-time job cuts. However, that scenario depends on the district receiving the amount of state aid officials are hoping to get.
“I would say there would be a reduction in some teachers. I can’t necessarily say whether they’d be layoffs or retirements. You know, it’s a concern we have every single year. We have these structural deficits every single year. And what I tried to show today was we’re running out of areas to cut besides the classroom and besides teachers,” Smith said.
The school district is once again asking the teachers’ union to give up its cosmetic surgery rider and delay their step-increases in pay. But that may not go over well.
Riverside High School teacher Marc Bruno said, “The morale is low and I think we don’t want to get paid what everyone else gets paid, but I think we want to get kind of close. So now they’re asking us to give up more again when we’re already $10,000 to $15,000 less per year [than other teachers in other school districts].”
Teachers will also be offered an early retirement package that will change how they receive health care benefits after retirement.
Wednesday night, the school board heard about the deficit issue and started to tackle an even more pressing one: whether to close or merge four under-performing Buffalo schools. Parents were on hand at the Waterfront School to urge board members to reconsider a plan to close and relaunch Bennett and MLK schools and to merge Pinnacle Charter into Harvey Austin.
Sam Radford of the District Parent Coordinating Council said, “This process is not fair to parents. Reconsider the process. Give us time to be in a dialogue.”
After five and a half hours of discussions in executive session, the school board did not make any determination on what action to take.