Teaching Profession

Buffalo Teachers Want Fewer Nonacademic Duties, But at What Cost?

By Brenda Iasevoli — January 11, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A dustup over cafeteria and recess duties illustrates the trade-offs teachers often have to make between their in-classroom and out-of-classroom responsibilities.

Teachers at City Honors School in Buffalo, N.Y., are looking to get off the hook for routine duties required of other teachers in the district like monitoring the cafeteria and supervising study halls, according to The Buffalo News. But that decision could have some unintended consequences that neither the district nor the teachers want.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation filed a grievance against the school district seven years ago when City Honors teachers had to begin performing nonacademic duties from which they had been exempt since the school’s opening in 1975, reports the newspaper. An arbitrator in 2016 sided with the union. The district appealed the decision, but it was upheld in State Supreme Court last spring. Now the district and union are in talks once again before they’re due back in court at the end of this month.

It’s not unusual for teachers across the country to have to pull bus duty, or monitor halls, the lunchroom, or recess (depending on the terms of their contracts, of course). Although these aren’t always roles teachers welcome, some argue for the merits of getting to know students outside of the classroom, as this educator does in an Education Week Commentary about monitoring lunch detention.

But the circumstances at City Honors, a magnet school, are unusual, said special assistant to the superintendent Elena Calal. When the school first got off the ground, the student body was small, more independent, and what Calal called “self monitoring.” Over the years, as the school grew, adminstrators had to hire aides to take on some of the nonacademic duties. That funding didn’t last, and eventually the extra duties fell into teachers’ hands. And that’s where the union grievance came in.

Yet as it turns out, the decision to free City Honors teachers from nonacademic duties would cost the school system about $600,000 a year, because it would have to hire teacher aides again to take over those responsibilities. The union, for its part, would like to avoid the district resorting to teacher layoffs to make up for the shortfall. City Honors, the top-performing school known for its international baccalaureate program, a course of study linked to college success, would then have to increase class sizes and even cut some electives.

The district and union are now in talks to find a deal they can both live with, according to Calal.

Buffalo Public Schools has offered to pay City Honors teachers for performing the nonacademic duties, even though district officials question the fairness of allowing some teachers a privilege not granted to all teachers working in its schools, reports The Buffalo News. (Buffalo has struggled in the recent past to address allegations of discriminatory admissions practices at City Honors, and still faces public scrutiny on this issue.)

Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, appears confident that the district and union leaders can reach an agreement before the court requires the district to take action on the ruling.

“It seems to be a genuine willingness to work this out,” Rumore told the newspaper. “I think the teachers at the school, as well as the BTF [Buffalo Teachers Federation], are committed to finding a solution to the problem without starting World War III.”


See also:


Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be
The pandemic has put teachers through the wringer. Administrators must think about staff well-being differently.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read