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Buffalo schools calendar approved after weekslong stalemate

Public school students in Buffalo will start classes Sept. 6 and get to keep their traditional February break under a 2019-20 district calendar that was approved Wednesday after weeks of back and forth between the school district and its teachers union.

Teachers will report Sept. 3 and 4 for professional development and have a setup day Sept. 5 before school officially opens – on Friday, Sept. 6.

Winter recess will run from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1; midwinter recess will run from Feb. 18 to 21. Spring recess will run from April 10 to 17. The last day of classes will be June 25.

Both the district and the Buffalo Teachers Federation had been trying to find a compromise to avoid the 42-week calendar on the table, which would have started classes Sept. 11 – more than a full week after Labor Day – and axed the traditional February break.

The district had originally proposed a 44-week calendar with a Sept. 4 start, a February break and the school days before Thanksgiving and Memorial Day off. The union objected, because salaries would be spread over 44 weeks.

The union countered with a 43-week calendar that keeps the February break, but starts school on Friday, Sept. 6. District officials didn’t like that because the first day of school would be on a Friday. The district also said it needs the days before Thanksgiving and Memorial Day off, because absenteeism among teachers tends to be high those days.

Last week, the district proposed a slightly different version with a Sept. 5 start, which would affect the teacher setup day allowed under their contract. Teachers rejected that idea.

The stalemate lasted right up until hours before the last School Board meeting of the year. In the end, the School Board, based on the recommendation of Superintendent Kriner Cash, approved the 43-week calendar proposed by the BTF.

Otherwise, under the teachers contract, the calendar would have defaulted to 42 weeks – the late start and no February break – which would have put families in a tough spot, Cash said.

“I would recommend approval of the 43-week calendar and let’s move on to bigger and better things,” Cash said. “Families in the schools have to start planning for next year and we’re already late on this issue.”

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