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School Board Delays Residency Vote, Approves Closings

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Board of Education has decided not to change its residency requirement for Buffalo teachers. It requires all newly hired teachers to reside in the city.

No one spoke in favor of the change at last night’s four hour board meeting, and 21 persons, including several Common Council members, told the board the residency rule should remain in place. At large school board member Darius Pridgen agrees.

"I do have a fear that if there is absolutely no residency rule in place we could find ourselves with most of Buffalo's professional employees not living in the city," Pridgen said.

Schools superintendent Marion Canedo says the residency rule does put up barriers in filling certified teaching jobs.

"We have some areas of certification for teachers that are extremely difficult to fill," Canedo explained. "In fact, if we could get someone from Alaska we would hire them because we don't have certified math teachers. Our biggest problem is making sure students are able to graduate from high school, but they can not be taught math by a non-certified teacher."

The board will consider a compromise proposal next month that would allow district administrators to hire suburban residents for some of those hard-to-fill jobs if no qualified city resident can be found.

The school board also voted to close five school buildings Wednesday night. The board adopted a recommendation from Canedo to permanently close School 75, which is currently used only for office space, and suspend service at Schools 60, 70 and 159 before the start of the next school year.

"Right now we are trying to make the best concept development based on the age of the building, number of students in the area that need to attend school and demographics," Canedo said.

The original plan was expected to save the district $6 million, though the board did not make a decision on one school Canedo wanted to close, Harbor Heights Elementary School on South Park.