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Teachers union files suit over start times at three city schools

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Teachers Federation and city school district are in a dispute over start times at three schools. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the teachers union has filed a lawsuit against the district and Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

“We actually have petitions from all three schools signed by parents and teachers objecting to the change,” said Phil Rumore, president, Buffalo Teachers Federation. 

The changes to school start times at the D'Youville Porter Campus, Drew Science Magnet School and Lydia Wright School were discussed this past spring. 

But Rumore tells WBFO News the district switched the times to save money and with Cash using his state receivership powers. However, Rumore is claiming the changes violated the new teacher’s contract

“But basically what they did is they changed the starting and ending time at two elementary schools from being early schools, that start at 8’o’clock to schools that starts at 9’o’clock – the kids then would get out an hour later – they did so without the knowledge of the parents, the consent of the teachers or anybody,” Rumore remarked.

You may recall the teachers' contract does provide for a longer school day, allowing the district to add 25-minutes for the new school year. 

Rumore said a State Supreme Court judgehas now ordered a stay in the case, putting a hold on start time changes at the school and New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will decide if Cash has the authority to make the adjustment.

“And I don’t see how the commissioner can rule that the changing of the starting and ending times at these three schools, making it later, is in any way to the benefit of the education of the student,” remarked Rumore.  

The District tells WBFO the changes were announced to teachers and families in April for education reasons.  Those changes were made in the district's budget this past May.  If those time changes don't occur, the district could face an additional $4-million budget cost.  District spokeswoman Elena Cala says they cannot discuss the matter that is in litigation.   

The city district’s new school year begins September 5th.

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