Buffalo Public Schools projected to lay off 30 teachers, staff

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Public Schools are projected to lay off around 30 teachers and staff for the next school year after facing an $80 million budget shortfall.

Officials said contributing factors were a decrease in student enrollment and COVID-19 relief funds expiring. The decision follows layoffs at West Seneca East and West high schools and Hamburg Central School District, who also lost COVID-19 funds.

BPS has a total of around 7,000 positions, so the layoffs affect around .4% of the district’s workforce.

“It’s a difficult situation and exceedingly mindful and conscious effort to avoid any layoffs,” Jim Barnes, the chief financial officer for BPS, said. “This superintendent [Dr. Tonja Williams] has done everything to prevent that.”

Williams has a two-year plan to mitigate the layoffs, which includes a hiring freeze, excluding essential positions. She said they looked at vacant positions and decided to “extinguish” positions in schools and district offices that were not filled for nine months to one year.

As a result, BPS removed 40 vacant positions in the central office and 91 in the schools.

Cutting vacancies, not re-hiring for vacancies left open due to retirement, and reducing “coaching” positions, for example, in literacy and instructional technology, are also part of the plan.

The district will present the budget to the school board one week before their May 15 meeting, which is when the board’s vote will take place.

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Katie Skoog joined the News 4 team in April 2024 as a digital producer. She is a graduate from the University at Buffalo.

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