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School Board votes to rid cosmetic surgery rider

Posted at 12:07 AM, Jun 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 00:07:02-04

It's a so called perk that Buffalo Teachers have had for more than 20 years. As part of their contract, teachers have been able to get various forms of cosmetic surgery, which costs the district roughly 5 million dollars a year.

As a cost-cutting measure Wednesday, members of the Buffalo School Board voted to remove the rider from the contract to help balance its budget.

The teachers have been working under conditions of their old contract for more than 13 years, because the Board and the Buffalo Teachers Federation have been unable to negotiate a new contract.

The vote came after a lengthy discussion both in and out of executive session. Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore says the board cannot legally remove a clause in the contract without negotiating in good faith.

"Everybody knows that if you have a contract, you can't change it on your own," he said. "What's to prevent them from anything they're going to take the salary schedule out? Well, that's not the way it works."

The board is citing a provision in the Taylor Law to back up their plan.

"If there's an impasse, and obviously we're at an impasse in a negotiation, the legislative body, being the Board has the right to correct that impasse," Paladino said.

We took that question to 7 Eyewitness News Legal Expert Florina Altshiler. Full disclosure: Altshiler's fiance is a Buffalo Teacher.

"According to the Taylor Law, the Board can do whatever it takes to help negotiations to be able to reach a deal," she said. "However; obviously whatever they do must help negotiations. It doesn't help negotiations to take away something that the Union wants to keep or use as a bargaining chip."

Even though the Board voted to take away the rider, it amended the resolution, to put the 5 million dollars in escrow to help boast teacher's salaries.

Rumore says it doesn't work that way.

"You can't do that," he said. "I have news for you, we will go to court and they will be found guilty of violating the law."

The Board says these were cost-cutting measures to balance its budget. The District still has a 3 million dollar deficit, and Paladino says it will keep cutting to get to 0.