The Buffalo Board of Ed on Wednesday once again kicked around the idea of rescinding the residency requirement for district employees -- but it was clear that Ralph Hernandez was not going to get enough votes that night to support the move.
The usual arguments were floated in support of rescinding the requirement, namely: some quality candidates might shy away from the district because of the residency rule; people don't like to be told where to live; most large districts do not have a residency rule; and the residency rule can't be effectively enforced anyway. Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Pamela Cahill came out in support of rescinding the rule, and teachers union president Phil Rumore pled the case for reversing the policy, too.
There wasn't much Wednesday night in the way of arguments specifically in favor of keeping the residency rule in place. But a few board members advocated the idea of offering financial incentives for employees to move into Buffalo -- either in place of a residency rule, or as something to complement such a rule.
At large board member John Licata suggested the board should not voluntarily concede to rescinding the residency policy. "It strikes me that when we have a contract that's still being negotiated... I've learned from my children how to negotiate -- you don't just give it away without something in return."
Rumore recoiled at the thought. But Superintendent James A. Williams seemed to like Licata's idea.
"There are two things we need," Williams said: an earlier notification date when teachers decide to retire, and a modification of the teacher transfer policy. "We cannot continue to transfer 500, 600 teachers in the district (every year). That's what I want to see attached to this."
Rumore agreed that there shouldn't be hundreds of transfers a year -- but he had a different take on things.
"If you're happy at a school, you're not going to apply for a transfer," Rumore said. "I would ask this board, rather than just looking at the transfers, dig deep."
The board decided to send the residency issue back to committee, so a decision will be at least a month away.
- Mary Pasciak