It's a heated debate over wether grades of students with poor attendance should or should not be included in teacher evaluations

Talk of Layoffs,After Teacher Union Votes Against State

March 8, 2012 Updated Mar 8, 2012 at 7:40 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

March 8, 2012 Updated Mar 8, 2012 at 7:40 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY

A day after Buffalo teachers vote against a state mandate regarding their evaluations layoffs are now on the table.

"Yesterday I really believed that this was a chance for the teachers to say that there is an issue bigger than our contract, there's an issue bigger than our own job evaluations," said Amber Dixon, Interim Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.

It's a situation that is not only touchy but complicated.

In order to qualify for millions in continued federal funding for some of the district's worst performing schools, teachers and principals have to comply with a new evaluation system handed down by the state which includes every student's test scores.

Up to this point, the grades of student's who did not show up for class at least 80 percent of the year were not reflected in teacher evaluations.

And Wednesday night the Buffalo Teachers Federation voted to keep it that way even though it means loosing out on more than $9 million in funding.

"This is a change in the teacher and principal evaluation system and the longer a district thinks it doesn't have to go along with the change the more ramifications we're going to see," said Dixon.

Those ramifications could mean up to 70 layoffs.

"We have the numbers in front of us, we have the names in front of us and we're going to be looking at bringing some sort of recommendation to the board next week," explained Dixon.

Dixon says those layoffs may be a reality in order to address the district's $42 million budget shortfall.

But the teachers union isn't budging and neither is the state.

"If there is no agreement about teacher and principal evaluations and these funds don't get restored it says to me that there will be now way $42 million flow to our next seven schools that have been identified as persistently low achieving," said Dixon.

Student performance only accounts for 20 percent of the evaluation. Other school districts like Rochester and Syracuse have complied with the new evaluation system.

Dixon says the decision on layoffs will ultimately be made by the school board.