BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo School Board voted Wednesday to eliminate the cosmetic surgery rider in the district's contract with Buffalo teachers. The board voted on an amended resolution which sets aside the $5 million that would have been spent on the rider to pay for teachers’ raises instead, when a new contract is negotiated between the district and the teachers' union.
There hasn't been a new contract since 2004.
The board also passed a budget submitted by Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash which has a deficit of $10.5 million instead of the $11.9 million deficit in Cash's previous proposal. Cash achieved some of the savings by cutting overtime spending in half from $1.8 million to $900,000.
While the resolution passed Wednesday night eliminated the cosmetic surgery rider for members of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, the union plans to challenge the resolution in court.
"If the board should take an act which obviously is illegal, we will be in court the next day," says BTF President Phil Rumore.
The rider allows teachers to get plastic surgery and massages paid for by taxpayers. Eliminating it saves the district $5 million a year. That is the $5 million now earmarked for raises for teachers.
“The skin peel treatments, breast enhancements, eyelid work, tummy tucks, while we have 32,000 kids in poverty who need smaller classrooms, who need tremendous resources. To me it's a moral issue," says Buffalo School Board Member Larry Quinn.
"They think they can just rip something out of the contract without negotiating. That's a slap in the face to teachers," says Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore.
Despite no new contract in 12 years, both sides tell us they are still willing to negotiate.
"We've indicated right from the beginning of the negotiations that we're willing to give up the cosmetic surgery rider. It's just a question of whether it's part of a package, but what an insult," says Rumore.
"We have many progressive things that are happening in other places, and our kids who are in the greatest need, it's not happening for them because of this recalcitrant, you know, I'm going to protect breast enhancement. Good job, Phil. Good job. Go do it," says Quinn.
Quinn says there's a provision in the Taylor Law which allows the board to remove the clause from the union's contract. Board majority member Carl Paladino says although the clause hasn't been tested in court before, he says the law is on the board's side.
"You go out there and you push the edge, and that's called pushing the edge, and we're willing to do that because we've got a good chance of winning. We get the right court, the right judge, okay, the right understanding there that there has been a quid pro quo, and we could do okay with that issue," says Paladino.
The quid pro quo Paladino is talking about is $12 million that's already in the budget to reduce classroom size, which is something the union wants.
On July 1, a new board majority takes over and its members have already said they want to focus on a new contract.