Buffalo, NY (WKBW)-The Buffalo Public School District could be out millions of dollars in state funding after its teachers union rejected the last proposed evaluation system for teachers. The deadline to submit an agreement to the state was due by 5 p.m. Tuesday. $5.6 million in School Improvement Grants (SIG) hangs in the balance for this school year and an additional $50 million is in jeopardy for the following year.
"It's not us who are holding up the money, it's the commissioner of education. In my opinion he's using students as pawns," said Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore.
The union and the district had been working on an agreement for months and already submitted three different plans to the state, but all were rejected in Albany. Rumore says Buffalo is a unique district, especially when it comes to high student absenteeism.
"In our high schools, 35 percent of our high school students are absent over seven weeks," added Rumore. "So how can you judge a high school teacher when a student isn't there?"
Parents are outraged over the news, especially since the money was slated to go to Buffalo's under performing schools.
"You can't blame the state because you didn't do what you said you were going to do," said Samuel Radford, Vice President of the District Parent Coordinating Council. "So now you have consequences, but in truth, parents and students will have those consequences."
District administrators will head to Albany for a hearing this Thursday in hopes to restore the funding. New York City and Greenburgh Central School District are the only other districts in the state that have also rejected New York State's mandated Teacher Evaluation System. The District Parent Coordinating council is encouraging the community to attend Wednesday's Buffalo School Board meeting scheduled from 5 p.m. inside city hall.