BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Public School teachers will receive raises, bonuses and retroactive pay in their tentative new union agreement, which was unanimously approved Friday by the Board of Education ahead of Monday’s union vote.
In return, Buffalo Public Schools won long-term reductions in benefits. Current teachers will contribute more toward their health insurance, and teachers hired after June 30, 2026 will not be eligible for district health insurance in retirement.
The district called the agreement a four-year investment in its teachers of more than $240 million, including $41 million in one-time payments as bonuses or retroactive pay.
“We want our teachers to know we respect their work. They are valued. We appreciate what they do. I believe for me as the superintendent, that was at the core of the negotiations,” Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams said.
Buffalo Teachers Federation members will meet at Kleinhans Music Hall on Monday afternoon to vote on the deal. All after-school activities are canceled Monday so teachers can attend.
What Buffalo teachers get
Buffalo teachers will get the following raises, according to information shared at Friday’s special board meeting.
- 8% raise retroactive to Sept. 1, 2022
- 6% raise on July 1, 2023
- 4% raise on July 1, 2024
- 3% raise on July 1, 2025
Additionally, all active, full-time teachers get a one-time 10% bonus, based on their new salary, when the contract is ratified.
Recent retirees are eligible for one time payments between $1,000-$2,000 depending on the date of their retirement.
What the district gets
Teachers hired after June 30, 2026 will not be eligible for district health insurance in retirement.
This does not affect current teachers. Teachers hired after that date will be able to “sell back” sick days and use early retirement incentives toward the cost of healthcare in retirement.
Additionally, beginning on July 1, 2023, teachers will contribute more toward their health insurance. Increases are listed below:
Current – Single: $600, Family $1,500
July 1, 2023 – Single: $750, Family $1,750
July 1, 2024 – Single: $850, Family $1,900
July 1, 2025 – Single: 950, Family $2,050
Three salary steps for teachers – 20, 18 and 16 — are being removed in 2023, 2024 and 2025, respectively, reducing the total number of salary steps from 27 to 24. Teachers on the top step when steps are eliminated in 2023, 2024 and 2025 will get a one-time $1,500 stipend.
Bell time adjustments
Bell time adjustments are also included in the agreement.
The district may change the start and end time of school in 2023-24. Teachers will be notified by June 1.
Bell times are projected to be 7:30 a.m., 8:15 a.m. and 9 a.m. Start time will be no earlier than 7:25 a.m. and end time will be no later than 4:20 p.m.
Teachers at affected schools will be placed at the top of the transfer list, based on seniority. Teacher hours of service will not exceed 7 hours, 15 minutes.
The district said it will hold community meetings at each impacted school to receive feedback.
Other info in the agreement
- A one-time payment into the BTF’s supplemental benefit (dental/vison) fund of $175,000. Increase per teacher payment to $650 with increases of $25 per year in 2024 and 2025.
- Upon ratification, the BTF and the District Athletic Committee agree to meet within 30 days to make recommendations on improving the hiring on athletic coaches.
- A $1,000 annual stipend for teachers with a bilingual extension who instruct a class where that is required.
- An increase in petty cash allotment to $10 per pupil, with increases of $2 per year in 2024 and 2025.
- An additional 30-minute prep period for adult education instructors and advisors.
- Formation of a committee to make recommendations to address the social/emotional wellness of students.
- BPS says it will be the second highest paying district for new teachers. It says it is behind Lackwanna.
Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams and the district negotiating team “fully support this tentative agreement and respectfully request that the Board of Education approve it,” documents at the meeting said.
Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman says the contract is for the teachers, but it is still student-centered and ensures families that their children will receive an excellent education.
“What it means is this is a new day. There’s been a paradigm shift that has occurred. As I said earlier, much has been given and much will be expected to be received,” President Belton-Cottman said.
Teachers have been working without a new deal for nearly four years. This lengthy impasse included several contentious board meetings, pickets, a call to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office to declare a state of emergency in the district, a vote of no confidence in the superintendent, and an independent fact finding report that the district says was instrumental in the negotiation process.
“The district and the board were in lock step throughout this process. This is a high functioning board and a high functioning school district and administration and we can get things done here successfully,” Nate Kuzma, the district’s general counsel, said.
Just a month ago there was bickering at the bargaining table after the board said it had given its final offer on a new contract at the March board meeting. Several board members walked out of that meeting after a discussion about the deal and why it wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered.
Lou Petrucci served on the board and as president. He says these negotiations are complicated because it is about more than the salary.
“I’ve told people if it was just about salary that would be easy, but it isn’t just about salary. It’s about all these other, language in the contract and management rights and healthcare,” Petrucci added.
Earlier this week, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore announced he was retiring from the union after 42 years. Rumore did not respond to News 4’s request for comment on this story, but the district says it is optimistic the union will ratify the contract.
“It was rigorous and he did what he was supposed to do in his role and I think that we all have deep respect for him as his teachers should,” Superintendent Williams added.
* * *
Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.