BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Opposition is brewing over proposed pay bonuses for Buffalo Public School employees, including top staff within the district.

The District Parent Coordinating Council, which is a very outspoken organization on school district issues, said the bonuses are not needed and the money should go elsewhere.

“The mission of the school district is putting children and families first to ensure higher academic achievement for all tell me how this does that?” said Sam Radford of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

Terrance Heard, a Buffalo School Board member has proposed a resolution to give $2,000 bonuses to full-time workers, including district superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash and his cabinet members — $1,000 bonuses for new hires and $500 for substitutes.

“The COVID-19 reasonable pay resolution is very needed in this district, we need to find a way to help retain our teachers here in the City of Buffalo and our Buffalo Public schools employees,” Heard said, “Our teachers worked just as hard as our support staff, our support staff worked just as hard as our maintenance staffs and they did a lot of work went beyond the call of duty to address the issues with COVID.”

Heard said the district has submitted a plan for use of CARES Act funding to pay for bonuses. He said the district estimates about $13 million would be needed for the bonuses.

But there are questions as to whether CARES Act funding can be used for bonuses.

“Did some research, other districts across the country has used the ESSER funds and American Rescue Act funds to aid their employees and staff,” Heard said.

But, the United States Department of Education says general CARES Act money will not be used for bonuses and merit pay, unless due to disruptions or closure due to COVID.

The DPCC wants to see the money go to other areas of education — to students, to help parents and schools.

“Where’s the evidence that that’s a need at this point, we’re looking for how are we going to spend American Rescue Plan dollars that’s how we’re going to spend those dollars we have students with real needs now,” Radford said.

“I definitely got concerns and this is definitely something that we as parents are going to take a look at to find out if that’s an authorized expenditure of the money,” Radford said.

The resolution is expected to be discussed during Wednesday’s school board meeting at Waterfront Elementary. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.


Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.