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The Buffalo Teachers Federation is claiming vindication in the State Supreme Court's recent ruling to implement a 1990 agreement on teachers' pay raises. Union President Phil Rumore said teachers "do not seek to bankrupt the city, but look forward to working with the board and the city."

At first glance, it seems an impossible task for the Board of Education and the city both to come up with nearly $200 million in back pay and to identify money for a new teachers' contract.

With the life of the city on the line, I hope Rumore's statement is genuine and the union is open to creative and unorthodox measures to reach a resolution. Perhaps some of the money could be channeled back into the city in the form of investments.

Teachers could become shareholders in new city enterprises that earn money. The profits, in turn, could be used to make payments over time to the teachers, as well as pay them dividends on their investment.

Traditional investments, such as a city credit-card venture, could be established through seed money provided by the teachers. Community development, through such civic-minded initiatives as a revolving loan fund for mortgages or home-improvement loans, could benefit both sides.

Whatever is tried, it is obvious the teachers' best interest is a resolution that helps keep the city financially stable rather than bankrupting it.

How pleasantly ironic this costly, decade-old lawsuit could be if, when the teachers receive their court-ordered compensation, the city comes out of this predicament stronger financially because of the teachers' investments in enterprises.



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