Reconsidering Residency Requirement for Buffalo Teachers

April 13, 2011 Updated Apr 13, 2011 at 9:12 AM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

April 13, 2011 Updated Apr 13, 2011 at 9:12 AM EDT

The Buffalo School Board decided to do away with the residency requirement for teachers in a five to four vote in March. Some board members claimed this would expand the pool of applicants and attract stronger teachers to the city.

Now, Buffalo Common Council is meeting to try to reverse that decision. Members are concerned that taking away the residency rule would decrease the population in the city at a faster pace, according to census reports. They also said that it breaks up the sense of community within the schools if teachers live in the suburbs.

The common council is even threatening to withhold more than $70 million that the city provides to the district unless the board reconsiders their decision. School board members said withholding those funds is illegal but council member said they are willing to take it up with the courts to have this requirement reinstated.

School board member Florence Johnson supports keeping teachers living right here in the Queen City.

I truly feel that persons who work in the district need to be a part of the mosaic for changing the culture of the community.

Board member John Licata voted for to lift the requirement.

"Trying to dictate where teachers live to promote community is putting the cart before the horse. If we promote the best schools then the people will move into Buffalo and that will help to promote the community on a larger scale," Licata said.

Even if the residency requirement is reinstated, it would not automatically force all teachers to live within the city limits. Those who are already on the payroll could live elsewhere. Those people would be grandfathered into the revised rule voted on in March. Only new hires would have to live in the city.