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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS

Agreement is extended on length of days, year

An agreement to continue offering longer school days and a longer academic year at 16 schools in the city was signed Thursday by Superintendent James A. Williams and Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore.

The plan is made possible by state Contract for Excellence funds and is considered a major element in the improvement plan for the Buffalo Public Schools. Because of contractual provisions, it requires BTF agreement.

The key aspect of the agreement is that it lowers class sizes, Rumore said.

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Tax credit allowed on college tuition

WASHINGTON -- Families in Western New York could save $104 million annually, thanks to a new $2,500 tax credit authored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat said Thursday.

Schumer said he is starting an education campaign aimed at making sure that families know about the credit and take advantage of it. The tax credit, included in the economic stimulus bill, will make college more affordable and ease student debt loads, Schumer said. The $104 million in annual savings is the total for families in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

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Firefighters' suit on cap for overtime dismissed

A lawsuit by two Buffalo firefighters over the city's efforts to cap overtime costs was dismissed as legally premature Thursday.

State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dillon ruled that firefighters Patrick Eck and Keith LoCicero failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, noting that the city and the firefighters' union are only "in the middle" of arbitration on overtime pay issues.

The judge said the two firefighters can launch lawsuits if their pay demands are not resolved and they ultimately lose pension benefits as a result of the overtime cap.

Michael T. Feeley, attorney for Eck and LoCicero, said he will soon file a notice of claim against the city "for lost pension benefits" on the overtime issue. Feely said he will weigh a possible appeal of Dillon's ruling.

With overtime pay $2.4 million over budget in the past year, to $10.3 million, the city put caps on how much individual firefighters can earn in overtime.

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