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Teacher hiring plan changes for Buffalo schools

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo Public Schools are changing the way the district hires teachers, planning to do it much earlier when the talent pool is larger. The district is starting earlier so schools and principals know how they stand in preparing for fall classes.

The district is known for tangled processes and long delays, which leaves some teachers being hired after classes actually start.

There has not been any requirement for a teacher who plans to retire to notify the board in advance, as teacher contracts in many suburban districts require. The new city teachers contract does not require notice either, but does make a payment for an advance notice.

Human Resources Assistant Superintendent Jamie Warren told the Buffalo School Board everything will go faster this year.

"Internal teacher transfer process, a process that took four months, is down to four days," said Warren to applause. "We will have completed our internal transfers by June 13 and, after that, all vacancies for new hires, we will be sending out ones we have issued orders to to the buildings, so principals can make selections from top talent candidates."

The goal is to have all known vacancies filled by June 30. That means principals will know who will be in the building when classes start in the fall and teachers will have a good lead on getting classrooms ready for kids.

Student enrollment is not expected to advance much in public and charter schools. However, CFO Geoffrey Pritchard said additional teachers still may be hired - for English Language Learners.

"That's one of the largest growth areas that we have, trying to support ELL teachers, and that growth is approximately 50 teachers, budget to budget," said Pritchard. "But, again, a good portion of those are already in place right now and then I think it's less than 20 we have budgeted next year. It's quite possible that if more of these students come, we might be adding more teachers during the year."

What that means is the budget anticipates having 50 more ELL teachers at the end of the next school year than the district started with at the beginning of this year. Since most would be new hires, costs would be below what a veteran teacher is paid.

Pritchard said the average pay for a teacher is $65,000, while new ELL teachers will be about $20,000 below that, but that's typical for new hires in general. 

In the past, Buffalo lagged behind much of that hiring. That changed this year, with a trip to Puerto Rico looking for Spanish-speaking teachers for the growing ranks of Spanish-speaking students.

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