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School District Awaits Arbitration Date

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams says the city school year is going well. But he says there is still no movement in the ongoing contract talks between the district and teachers union.

Williams says they are still waiting for an arbitration hearing date to be set in the dispute over a single health insurance provider for union workers. Williams says as far as negotiations are concerned, they remain at a standstill. He says no new talks have been scheduled because the Buffalo Teachers Federation has not returned to the bargaining table.

"Well you have to talk to somebody and I don't want to talk to myself," Williams said. "I think our bargaining units have to come to the table. We can't do this at a distance. We have to sit down and work through the issues, work in confidence, and that is not being done."

BTF President Phil Rumore was not available for comment. Williams says the school year, now in its second month, is not being affected by the labor dispute.

Williams, who took over the district in July, is on a mission to visit all the public schools across the city. Each Thursday he visits a different school.

"I'm spending time with our principals and teachers, (discussing) all the challenges we are faced with," Williams said. "I want to commend all our teachers and principals for the good work they are doing under such tough circumstances."

Williams says he remains focused on improving student achievement.