BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It's a tough bottom line for public education in Buffalo. The school board has enacted a budget calling for more than 300 job cuts.
By a vote of five to two, the Buffalo School Board passed a $747 million budget that will cut 302 jobs. Some layoff notices will be going out by the end of the week. Board president Ralph Hernandez doesn't expect it to affect the quality in the classroom.
Hernandez said, "We're doing pretty good with the budget that we've got, so I think we're going to continue to hammer away to make sure that the integrity of the classroom remains intact."
The budget includes a half million dollars that will only be spent if all sides come to agreement on whether to bring back attendance teachers who were laid off six years ago. They argue that 30 percent of elementary students miss at least 20 days a year, and it will only get worse in their high school years.
Laid off attendance teacher Maria Rosa said, "If you don't have the children in school, how do you expect to have effective teachers and have the kind of test scores that you need?"
But Superintendent Dr. James Williams argues that it doesn't take certified teachers with master's degrees to bring kids back to school. He uses an example from Harlem.
Dr. Williams said, "They have Americorps workers actually going and knocking on doors to get children out of bed. You're not going to correct attendance until parents take responsibility."
But John Licata says attendance teachers are worth the half million.
"If we're going to say anybody can do it, well then why aren't parents getting their own kids into school? We should use attendance teachers," argued Licata.
The issue of attendance teachers is still being negotiated. As for the 302 job cuts, most are filled positions, but only about 76 of them will be Buffalo teachers actually laid off.
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