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Letter: Niagara Falls teacher residency rule is wrong

The Niagara Falls teacher facing possible termination for violating the Board of Education residency requirement brings to light this antiquated requirement. Over the years school board members would state the presence of their teachers living in the community helps contribute to the tax base and teachers serve as role models to the students.

They also said that if the board paid their salary then the board has the right to determine where they are to live.

I find all their reasons to institute and continue residency to be misguided. Contributing to the tax base?

Niagara Falls is in fiscal distress, it is obvious that the nearly 600 teachers have not helped to solve the city’s financial insolvency. In fact, the city’s fiscal woes are getting worse. Forcing teachers to live in the city has not helped in this regard.

Teachers serving as role models to their students? Last I saw, it is not the teachers’ job to serve as 24/7 role models to their students. That is the job of their parents. Teachers are good role models during the school day. After school, that responsibility belongs to the parents.

The board of education refuses to take into account that life’s circumstances change. What happens to a teacher when she is hired can change: marriage, children and other family events do occur.

The Niagara Falls Board of Education should remember that they are about a 90% state and federally-funded district. It’s time to release the teachers from this unnecessary form of bondage. Going forward, the board will find it more difficult to hire teachers when competing with surrounding districts who have no such residency requirements.

With the looming teacher shortage on the near horizon, maybe it’s time to change this policy.

Larry Schiro

Williamsville

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