• Seniority Defined


    According to the NYS Commissioner’s regulations, seniority is defined as “length of service in a designated tenure area.” This seniority is referred to as “Commissioner Seniority” and is sole criterion the district may use to decide layoff in tenure area.



    Article III, Section E of the of the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation collective bargaining agreement (ratified 2016), defines seniority as “the length of total continuous service from the date of original probationary appointment as a teacher in the Buffalo Public School system for this purpose.”  It continues, “whenever temporary service has been credited toward the completion of a probationary period, it shall also be counted for the purpose of seniority.”  This seniority is referred to as “Contractual Seniority”  and is the sole criterion that the district may use to recall back to work teachers who have been laid off and placed on a preferred eligible list.  This is also the criterion used to determine the order that teachers will be contacted in the teacher transfer process for both the grievance list and the list that includes teachers who wish to transfer voluntarily and those displaced through involuntary transfers or budgetary changes.



    Frequently asked questions (Examples of seniority calculation below)


    1. Why was my contractual seniority reduced from last year?  That doesn’t make sense as I worked all year. It was brought to the attention of Human Resources last year that the contractual seniority was being incorrectly calculated to include the entire amount of time that a teacher has been employed by the district.  Article III, Section E in the collective bargaining agreement states that temporary service can only be counted towards seniority when it has been credited towards the completion of a probationary period.  Therefore, the district is only able to count up to two years of temporary time towards contractual seniority.


    1. What is my district seniority? The total amount of time an employee has worked as a teacher for Buffalo Public Schools has not been bargained to be included into a “district seniority”.  Human Resources is only able to calculate commissioner and contractual seniority.   


    1. My commissioner seniority has more years that my contractual seniority.  How is that possible? Commissioner seniority is defined as the length of service in a designated tenure area.  If a teacher was temporary for five years prior to becoming probationary in the same tenure area, all five years count towards their commissioner seniority.  Only two of those years can be counted towards contractual seniority.  Therefore, commissioner seniority will be greater than contractual seniority.



    Teacher B            9/1/2000 – 6/30/2005          Temporary Elementary Teacher

                              9/1/2005 – 6/30/2019          Probationary/Permanent Elementary Teacher

                              9/1/2000                             Date used to determine commissioner seniority

                              9/1/2003                             Date used to determine contractual seniority

    Commissioner seniority 19 years

    Contractual seniority 16 years

    Working in the same tenure area the entire time establishes 9/1/2000 as the date used to calculate commissioner seniority.  The original probationary date is 9/1/2005, plus they have worked five years with temporary status in the same tenure area which establishes 9/1/2003 as their contractual seniority date because the time was credited towards the completion of their probationary term.         



    1. Why is my time in my previous tenure area not included in my contractual seniority? Not all time in a previous tenure area is included in contractual seniority.  If you held the status of temporary or emergency temporary in that tenure area, then the time does not count towards the completion of your probationary period in the tenure area in which you originally received probationary status and therefore cannot be counted.



    Teacher A            9/1/2000 – 6/30/2001                    Temporary Math Teacher

                              9/1/2001 – 6/30/2019                    Probationary/Permanent Science Teacher

    Commissioner seniority 18 years

    Contractual seniority 18 years

    Original probationary date is 9/1/2001, this establishes their contractual seniority date, the Math Teacher time cannot be used because it was not credited towards the completion of their probationary term  


    1. I was laid off from my tenure area, rehired in another tenure area that I am certified in, and then recalled to my original tenure area.  How do you calculate my commissioner and contractual seniority?   If a probationary/permanent teacher is laid off and rehired in another tenure area, their contractual seniority continues to accrue seniority for the time they work, their previous tenure area accrual is paused, and they begin to accrue seniority in the new tenure area that they were rehired for. 



    Teacher C                  9/1/2000 – 6/30/2002                    Probationary SPED Teacher

                                    8/31/2002                                     Laid off SPED Teacher

                                    9/1/2002 – 6/30/2003                    Probationary English Teacher

                                    9/1/2003                                       Recalled to SPED

                                    9/1/2003 – 6/3019                         Probationary/Permanent SPED Teacher


    Commissioner seniority SPED 18 years

    Commissioner seniority ELA  1 year

    Contractual seniority  years 19 years

    Original probationary date is 9/1/2000, this establishes their contractual seniority date, which continues to accrue even though they were laid off from one tenure area.  Human Resources retains records of seniority accrual in other tenure areas in case an employee chooses to return to that tenure area at a later time. 


  • 1) How will I know which school has available vacancies?

  • 2) How will HR notify teachers who are on a leave of absence?

  • 3) What is the criteria for a teacher to be able to get an approved transfer?

  • 4) When is the deadline for when a transfer request can be submitted?

  • 5) I have been displaced by the budget process, but did not submit a request to transfer.  What do I do?

  • 6) If I am the most senior teacher in the transfer pool, can I “pass” my slot in anticipation of another opening? Or, must the person with the most seniority make a decision first and then be removed from the transfer process?

  • 7) My budgeted position has changed slightly, but will remain predominately at my current location. Do I have right of first refusal to stay in my building?

  • 8) My Principal is requesting volunteers to transfer due to a reduction in my tenure area at my school.  If I volunteer, do I get super seniority?

  • 9) I transferred at the beginning of this year to my current assignment because there was a reduction at my previous location.  Can I voluntarily transfer this year?

  • 10)  Will the District identify the specific courses/schedule/grade level of the available vacancies?

  • 11)  What happens if I am out of town/country/unreachable during the transfer process?

  • 12)  I hold a TOSA title that is being reduced for next school year.  How am I impacted?

  • 13)  Can I invoke my contractual right to transfer into a school where the Principal does not agree that I am a fit for the school?

  • Updated: June 27, 2019