63 Buffalo teachers laid off just before start of school

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just three weeks before the start of the school year, the Buffalo Public School District laid off 63 teachers, as well as six deans of students.

Buffalo Teacher Federation President Phil Rumore said the teachers found out this past weekend and on Monday. He says the timing of the layoffs, just weeks before the school year, is “unconscionable.”

READ | The school district sent this letter to teachers who were laid off

“I think that it’s really callous to wait until this part of the year when all the jobs in the other districts are already filled and they have absolutely nowhere to get an additional position,” Rumore said.

Four guidance counselors, 12 ELA teachers, 12 math teachers, 10 science teachers, 11 social studies teachers, 10 reading teachers, two art teachers and two hearing impaired teachers were let go.

News 4 reached out to interim superintendent Dr. Donald Ogilvie, but was told he was not available for interviews.

The school district released a statement Friday, saying, in part, “The layoffs were carefully considered as part of right-sizing the teaching staff to the student population, while working within the 2014-15 approved budget. Further, some of these layoffs are due to the move of School #115 to Harvey Austin #97, and the elimination of a 9th-grade class at Bennett High School for the 2014-15 school year.”

The district says the laid offs were made based on an analysis after retirement and disability notices were made.

The Buffalo School Board will have the final word on layoffs. Board President Jim Sampson said there is a balance to consider.

He told News 4, “There’s a concern that we may have more staff at all levels than the number of kids would warrant. On the other hand we want to make sure that every classroom has a high quality teacher.”

Sampson also said that parents, taxpayers and board members should be questioning if too much money is going into the district’s central office.

“Hold the administration accountable in very, very short order,” he said, “to make sure that we’re not top heavy in administration and have positions that don’t bring value to the classroom.”

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