BUFFALO, NY – Teacher’s in the city’s public school system will make more money under the contract they ratified on Monday, but they will also have to work longer hours.
Before presenting the deal to the rank and file, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore knew that aspect of the contract might cause some consternation among some.
"There was concern about adding extra time onto the day,” Rumore confirmed. “I mean, that was a big concern.”
Under the terms of the contract, 25 minutes will be added to each school day, and two days will be added to the school year.
Elementary school teacher Donna Pastore noted that if you do the math, that comes out to more than two weeks of extra work for teachers during the school year.
"We have to (cumulatively) work approximately 11 more days, because our day is extended and our year is extended," she said.
"I don't have a problem with a longer work day,” said Shari Hayden, who teaches at Emerson High School. “I mean, seriously, we're all there longer than that (25 extra minutes) anyway."
"One of the two extra days we get to work in our classroom and another will be a professional development day,” noted Lorraine Elementary School teacher Kelly Gaisor. “And as far as those extra 25 minutes, well, I’m fin with that because our kids need it.”
And some teachers also think they need the extra time to assist them as they face an ever increasing amount of curriculum mandates from New York State.
“We’ve been trained to implement a lot of programs and we're trying to fit it in to the school day,” said Lorraine Elementary teacher Anita Martel. “This would allot us some time to implement those programs."
“I definitely think this is a good thing,” said Sam Radford, President of the District Parent Coordinating Council.
“For example, our children do not get the state required physical education they're supposed to get because the school day is not long enough. They negotiated it out of the last contract. "
Radford raised another point perhaps lost on many.
"Buffalo had the shortest school day in all of Western New York. As a matter of fact, the sixth shortest school day in the whole country." he said. “So children in Buffalo, if you count it up through Kindergarten through 12th grade, actually went to school almost 2 years less than their suburban counterparts due to a shorter school day and shorter school year."
And though studies are split as to whether longer days equate to higher student achievement, Radford says he doesn't need a study to know one thing.
"The reality is we have the shortest school day and the lowest performing students and I think that speaks for itself,” he said. “I think it's just bringing us back to where we should have been in the first place."
Still to be determined: whether school will start 25 minutes earlier, or end 25 minutes later.
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