Cosmetic Surgery or Smaller Class Sizes?

October 27, 2010 Updated Oct 28, 2010 at 6:41 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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October 27, 2010 Updated Oct 28, 2010 at 6:41 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (Wkbw)

Buffalo School Board Member At Large, Chris Jacobs wants the board to investigate the dramatic increase in cosmetic surgery costs for school district employees. In 2009 employees spent almost $9 million on elective cosmetic procedures, compare that to less than $1 million five years ago.

"In a situation when we are in a fiscal crisis we're laying off people you know, millions of dollars are going out the door on cosmetic surgery when we could be saving jobs," said Jacobs.

Nearly 10,000 employees qualify for the free benefits, all they have to do is pay a co-pay. But records show the district covered the costs of services like botox, micro-dermabrasion, laser hair removal and chemical peels for small group of employees, just 500.

"Eight million dollars could go to wage increases, $8 million could go to hiring back teachers...not to mention our class sizes being bigger and things like that," said Jacobs.

Jacobs says there is another alarming trend. Of the more than 8,000 procedures in question, the work was performed by eight doctors. One provider raised his per procedure costs almost 80 percent in just one year, with taxpayers footing the entire bill.

"...This has gotten out of control, this little benefit you fought for and I think it's actually come to the point he's (union leader) benefiting a small percentage and hurting the broad based membership of our union," said Jacobs.

Chris Jacobs wrote a letter asking the Superintendent, Board of Education, and City Comptroller to conduct an investigation into the doctors and employees who received the services to determine if there is any fraud at play. If so, he is calling for a full reimbursement to the district.