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City Honors parents say teaching cuts would be a major disruption to students

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

City Honors parents in Buffalo say planned teacher cuts at their school would cause a major disruption for students.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says this all revolves around a dispute over non-teaching duties. She spoke to a parent, the city school district and Buffalo Teachers Federation. 

“So this could eventually lead to such chaos in our school and we want that dispute to be resolved and that is before this affects our kids negatively,” said Adrienne Romanowicz, City Honor parent.

An arbitrator ruled City Honors teachers no longer have to perform non-teaching duties. The district said it is now forced to hire 16-aides at the school to cover those non-teaching assignments. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Adrienne Romanowicz, City Honor parent.

“All of these teachers mean so much to our students. They are so immersed with the relationship with these teachers,” remarked Romanowicz.

Parents issued a letter the district, teachers’ union, school board and principal demanding they end the dispute and spare those teaching positions.

“The children all know what teachers would be affected by this, so we have five and a half teachers right now. We have an orchestra teacher, I think we have a couple of people in the music department, we have an English teacher, a math teachers – we’ve got a guidance counselor,” Romanowicz explained. 

“So they had to make so very difficult decisions. Nobody wanted to make those decisions, especially the school administration,” commented Sabatino Cimato, associate superintendent of Leadership for the district.

Cimato tells WBFO News the cuts are the only way the City Honors principal would be able to cover the cost of the aides and balance his school's budget.

“The principal isn’t looking at – and I believe this in my heart of hearts – isn’t looking at this is a better cut over this – he balancing this anyway that he can at this point of the year and there’s nobody that’s more broken up about it then the district and the building administration, they don't want to see their kids faced with this at this point," Cimato explained.

“The teachers are willing to sit down and they had already made an offer to the district that they would do some of the duties,” stated Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore.

Rumore is calling on the district to return to negotiations, claiming they shut down talks.

“That what we suggested is – let’s see if we can agree on an outside mediator from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) or someplace else to mediate the dispute and also while that’s being done, put any legal proceedings on hold, and also put any transferring of the teachers on hold, but that was rejected by the district as being ‘moot’," Rumore said. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore.

The district's General Counsel Nate Kuzma tells us mediation would delay the process. Kuzma tells WBFO News the "three-pronged" proposal submitted by Rumore called for mediation that would only delay the matter as the teachers are scheduled to be transferred out of City Honors by February 27.

Kuzma said they don't want to cut teachers and it's time to sit down and resolve the matter.

"Mediation would delay the process. We don't want to cut teachers," Kuzma explained. "We want a global solution that is in everyone's interest." "The time is now for the adults to sit down at the table and resolve this matter.”

The City Honors teachers would be reassigned, but there positions would not be replaced at the school this school year. 

Rumore tells WBFO he plans to take the matter to back court to block the transfer of the teachers.      

City Honors parents issued the following letter calling for all sides to resolve the dispute:

February 8, 2018

Dear BPS School Board Members, Buffalo Teachers, Buffalo Teachers Federation, Dr. Cash, and Dr. Kresse,

We are writing as parents of City Honors students, in response to the impasse that appears to have been reached in negotiations between the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation. Many of us have met as a group, and many more have since joined in to convey in this letter that we are deeply disheartened by this impasse, and by the outcomes that will result from it. The cuts that have been proposed and are now being put into action will have profound and potentially irreparable implications for class size, for music and other programs, and for the quality of the education that the children receive. Indeed, music programs such as band and orchestra would be decimated. Moreover, these changes will impact not only students at City Honors, but also students at other schools as teachers are reassigned mid-year.

There is a diversity of opinion among the parents as to how a resolution may occur. Yet, the fact is that this is not for the parents to resolve. This is the responsibility of the BPS and the BTF. As such, the parent opinions regarding the details of what a resolution might look like, who is in the right, or who is most deserving in this dispute are not relevant.

What is relevant is that we as parents are strongly united in our view that the course that we currently are on is unacceptable. As in most cases of unresolved disagreement between adults, it is the children who will suffer.

Like all parents of children in the Buffalo Public Schools, we have invested in the public school system, and in the city of Buffalo. We are proud to have our children in this system, and are grateful to the teachers and administrators who are a part of it. We recognize that these issues are long-standing and complicated, and not easy to resolve. Yet, they must be resolved.

Both sides of this dispute have asserted that they are working toward an amicable resolution. Yet, over a span of months, no resolution has been reached. As is frequently the case in these negotiations, each interaction seems to lead to further entrenchment. The arguments being presented on both sides too often focus on which side is right, and not enough on what all of this means for the children.
In a country and an era marked by divisiveness, acrimony, and the often incapacitating inability to work together, we strongly encourage the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation to set a different example, and to show the city and our children what compromise and collaboration look like.

We write to call upon both sides to put their good intentions into action, and to come to a fair and equitable resolution that, in the best interest of our children, will strengthen, and not degrade our schools. This can only happen when both sides come to the negotiations in good faith and on equal footing, working together to find solutions. We believe that this is possible, and we implore you to make it happen.

We offer our full support and our assistance with anything that we as parents, family members, and students can do to help prevent this devastating outcome.

Jennifer Read Victoria Bogucki Bryan Pirigyi James Daley Wendy Diina
Craig Colder Clint Perez Dominique Pirigyi Hugh Stephens Molly Hutton
Michael P. Swain Polly Perez Joan Linder Susan Stephens Bill Solomon
Erin K. O'Brien Tim McMahon Paul Vanouse Tori Dylag Eliot Solomon
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Mimi Daley Emma Daley Marc Marrano Melanie Morse Adam Morse Mary B Wachter Rebeca Redondo Alvarez Monica Richards Nicolas Penchaszadeh
Catherine Linder Spencer Bill Ferguson Kate Mayhook David Reading
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Nora Kirkley Elizabeth Ferguson Craig Forgette Kathi Roussel
Paul Ceppaglia Liam Ferguson Efrat Forgette Peter Fowler
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Jen Cox Patrick F. McDevitt Marissa Briggs Amy Nagy
Jennifer Cornacchio Kimberly Gartz Amy Vanderkhove Jill Robbins
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Beth Thomas Ron Leisten Jody K. Biehl Chika Kobayashi
Kevin Trietley Paula Velazquez Bouton Peter Biehl Jared Aldstadt
Tracey Trietley Lynette Stiglmeier Irus Braverman Ryan Stewart
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Carla Richardson Wilson Heather Quigley Timothy Wadkins Sharon Landgraff
Colleen Ormond-Smigiera Laura Watts Nilam Yagielski Jack Landgraff
Jack Yeksigian Michelle Norris David Yagielski Sarah Rowland
Chandra Swanson Kling Emily Wyckoff Gretchen Eissien Justin Rowland
Jill Wisz Catherine Panepinto Gail Kennedy Godfrey Janice Dillman
Lori Fanale Krzyzaniak Natasha Panepinto Tom Ortolano Sr. Greg Meadows
Amy Ozay Marc Panepinto Brett Lawton Jennifer Teach
Erkin Ozay Dana Ruggiero Janet Lawton Linda DeTine
Matthew Hertz Jennifer Murphy Jane Pietraszek Anne Solbu Slowe
Anne Evangelos Bruce Wagner Siobhan McCollum Eva Reddin
Elizabeth Vealey Lisa Hassett Drew Kahn Jim Reddin
Teresa Barth Peter Pasnik Maria Kahn Adrienne Romanowicz
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