Clock Ticking on Teacher Evaluation Plan

1:11 PM, Mar 23, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY- The Buffalo School District needs to get a teacher evaluation plan approved by the state by Friday, and teachers may be voting on their version of the plan Thursday.

Two On Your Side obtained this letter Buffalo Schools Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon sent to Buffalo Teacher's Federation President Phil Rumore Tuesday, putting pressure on the union to "make a decision in the next few days" on a teacher evaluation plan, so that millions of dollars in "funds can be restored" to six schools that so desperately need them.

In order to have any chance of the funds being restored the district has to have an agreement with the BTF to Albany by Friday. Dixon says the sticking point is the glossary.

"The language that the union had inserted in the glossary was what the state pointed to and said had to be removed," said Dixon. "So we took language like he had, and we put it right in the middle of the document that said under no circumstances under the local 60% APPR or Teacher Evaluation by Principal would student attendance be held against them."

Dixon says student attendance is actually only affecting 39 teachers in two elementary schools- Martin Luther King Jr. MultiCultural Institute and International School 45- and even then they would be judged on overall school attendance - not individual students.

"Student attendance does not in fact impact any teacher who's a high school teacher or even someone who's in an elementary school who's not a fourth through eighth grade teacher," said Dixon.

Dixon says teachers won't be carrying the weight of student attendance. "Nobody has the intention of blaming teachers for students who aren't in front of them."

Phil Rumore was in a meeting throughout the evening Wednesday revising the district's current proposal and told Two On Your Side turned the cameras away. Dixon says the 200-member Council of Delegates is expected to vote on it Thursday night.

"Any movement is good movement. What counts here are the children who don't have their after school programs because we were forced to stop them."

Also at stake is reportedly $5.6 million dollars in federal funding this year and 70 jobs in 38 schools. It will all be in the hands of the state Friday, when the district hands over the plan.

"They aren't going to rubber stamp an agreement that doesn't meet their definition of something that's rigorous enough to do the best it can for our children."

Dixon says the current plan is rigorous and she's optimistic it will pass the state's approval; she's just unsure of what the BTF will bring her Thursday. The district also had a hearing in Albany scheduled for Thursday - postponed until the following Thursday. Dixon says it's valuable time gained because that will be the very last chance they have to plea for the School Improvement Grant funds to be restored.

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