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School board approves teacher layoffs

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The Buffalo Board of Education voted Wednesday night to lay off 63 teachers.

With Buffalo's public schools opening in two weeks, the district is struggling to figure out which principals are in which schools, how many teachers will be needed and how many will be called back from layoff.

"I cannot vote on cutting these teachers," Board Member Mary Ruth Kapsiak announced during Wednesday's meeting of the Buffalo Board of Education.

Kapsiak is a former teacher and high administrator in the city system and former president of the board. She and other board members were faced with approving layoff notices which have already gone out to 63 teachers, though that's not likely to be the final figure. Some active teachers may retire in the coming weeks.

"When I was a principal at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, I had a teacher that showed up the first day....and she retired that evening," said  Talent Manager Director Darren Brown.
Brown says some of the laid-off teachers will be called back as temporary teachers. Many of the cuts reflect the closing of School 115, the former Pinnacle Charter, and the ending of ninth grade at Bennett High School.

The status of East and Lafayette high schools are unclear as Johns Hopkins University is looking to end its Educational Partnership Organization status.
"Johns Hopkins has reaffirmed its intention to end the contract," said Interim School Superintendent Donald Ogilvie.

"We have been in contact with the State Education Department and I anticipate that we will accept that and now begin to take a look at alternatives. But the point is that both Lafayette and East High School will open."

One alternative was presented by Saint John Baptist Church Pastor Michael Chapman who wants his church and its enterprises to take over East students whose grades are 75 and below to work with them on job training and job placement in church projects.

Here is the original breakdown of the 63 layoffs issued by the school district:

  • Guidance – 4
  • ELA – 12
  • Math – 12
  • Science – 10
  • Social Studies – 11
  • Reading – 10
  • Art – 2
  • Hearing Impaired – 2

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.