During April 13th's Buffalo Board of Education meeting, Chief Financial Officer Barbara J. Smith made a presentation in which she outlined projected $5.4 million cosmetic surgery costs for the 2010-11 school year.
The anticipated cost to taxpayers is down from last year’s $8.5 million, but the most stunning aspect of these latest figures include the fact that in one recent 12-month period, 60 members used over $30,000 each for a total of nearly $3 million according to Smith. Though a BlueCross BlueShield audit indicated no evidence of fraud or abuse with 10 providers sampled, those who render services have found ways to increase their client base through locations and offerings within the schools. Cosmetic surgeons regularly advertise in the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation newsletter.
Superintendent James A. Williams compared the cosmetic surgery cost to that of the salary of nearly 100 teachers. “This could be the difference between laying off teachers and having larger class sizes,” Dr. Williams said. But when the subject was brought up to Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore, his answer was that the BTF is unwilling to give up the cosmetic surgery benefit--even if it could mean avoiding teacher layoffs—until a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.