Buffalo School Board, Teachers, and Parents Wrestle Over Calendar

New School Calendar May Mean Eliminating February Break

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The biggest controversy in the Buffalo School district right now may revolve around the calendar, and whether or not the district keeps its February break.

A new proposal from the District would see students not begin the new school year until September 11, 2019. That calendar, which the district said would not include a February break, would allow for days off on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Friday before Memorial Day weekend. 

That calendar didn't sit well with Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore, so they offered a different idea, in which classes would start Friday, September 6.

"Having Friday, September 6, 2019 as a day for student orientation, seating, organization, grouping, etc. is very desirable. It allows for students and teachers to organize their classes, meet each other and be ready to begin the first week of instruction on Monday," said Rumore. "The district thinks with the 43 week calendar we suggested, since schools start on Friday, the parents won't send their kids. What an insult to the parents of Buffalo."

"We've gone by the 43 week calendar for many years, and all of a sudden the district says 'we want you to work two extra weeks for the same pay," Rumore said.

Rumore is arguing that the extra week would cost teachers income, as they have one less week to work a second job during their summer break.

"Unfortunately, we could not reach an agreement for a 44 week calendar, which we proposed. It was a student-focused calendar, similar to other districts in the region," said Darren Brown-Hall, who works for the District. "Since there was no agreement, we have do a calendar that's in line with their contract, which has a maximum of 42 weeks." 

The school district said they're looking for input from parents. They have placed THIS POLL asking parents which calendar should be used.

"The district sought a calendar which allowed professional development before the school year started, and the day before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Memorial Day off, which is in line with other districts," said Brown-Hall, who added that those days also have the highest teacher absence rates.

Duncan Kirkwood of the District Parent Coordinating Council says he likes the compromise calendar.

"As a parent, I would want teachers to get training, and have the 43 week school year, because the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Memorial Day have the highest teacher absence rates," said Kirkwood. He says as long as teachers are trained, he's willing to work it out.

"I think most parents will just start Monday, but if that's the decision, we just have to create an intro day, make it fun for the students."

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