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Quinn, Rumore debate Buffalo school issues

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore and school board member Larry Quinn took part in a forum Wednesday about city schools and the various issues related to them.

The forum, held at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery in downtown Buffalo, was moderated by Investigative Post founder Jim Heaney and was attended by approximately 100 guests.

The forum covered several topics for a little more than an hour, including where to begin with improving student performance.

"Early elementary education is where it's at, folks," said Rumore. "Yes, the high schools are important and we have to develop that, but imagine my surprise by a kid that's not ready for high school, when he gets to high school or she gets to high school, doesn't attend, drops out, causes problems."

Rumore and Quinn shared the opinion that teachers should be paid more. They disagreed, however, on whether merit should play a major role in determining salaries. Quinn said merit should count, as it does in other professions. He also suggested it's time to change the school district's contracts, not just with the teachers but with other groups of employees.

"We need to get back all of these UAW-style work rules where you can't put this person in this school, and this person has bumping rights, and this person has so many leave days," said Quinn. "Our contracts are set up like trade union contracts. They're not professional contracts."

Rumore stated that the BTF is not simply looking for more money for their members. They're especially interested in adjusting class sizes and improving other work conditions.

"A student's learning conditions are a teacher's teaching conditions," he said. "Art, music and physical education, we want more of that, and longer periods."

When asked about the next superintendent, Rumore said that person needs to have the confidence of the school board, while Quinn said the next superintendent needs to be a true collaborator who is willing to work with all sectors within Buffalo schools.

Both men also rejected the belief that the mayor's office should take control of the school district.


Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.