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In Budget Address, Bloomberg Says Cuts Loom for Teachers, Services

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg is looking to close nearly half of all senior centers, reduce the teacher workforce by more than 6,000, close 20 firehouses and eliminate more than 16,000 child care seats.

The cutbacks come amid news that city tax revenues came in about $2 billion higher than expected. But the mayor said that's not enough to make up for the cutbacks the city is absorbing from Albany and Washington.

There's $600 million in support from Albany the mayor is still hoping to get in education aid and pension reforms. If not, he said there would be additional cuts to city agencies and, possibly, more layoffs.

Specifically, Bloomberg is seeking $200 million in education aid from Albany, which he said "will reaffirm the state's commitment to the principles of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity," referring to the landmark lawsuit that directed more money to city public schools.

The mayor is sticking with the cutbacks he announced in November: cutting teaching positions through layoffs or attrition, closing senior centers and reducing funding for youth jobs.

More than 4,100 of the teaching positions would be lost through layoffs, while the rest would be reduced through attrition.

The head of the teachers union, Michael Mulgrew, said the mayor's insistence on layoffs becomes "more and more bizarre." He said the city has lost 5,000 teachers to attrition in the last two years, and class sizes are "skyrocketing."

In an unusually early concession, Bloomberg said he would seek only a 10 percent across the board cut in capital projects, down from his initial 20 percent. He credited City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who opposed the sweeping cuts — with the instigating the change.

The increased funding capital projects will spur job development, but the mayor said that should not be the main reason for making such an investment.

"City government's job is not to create jobs for every construction worker," he said. "Nobody feels more strongly about building things than I do, but there's a limit as to how much we can build."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters his department will make the necessary adjustments in light of the 350 civilian positions slated to be cut from his department.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano was less optimistic about his ability to adjust to the closure of 20 firehouses.

"You don't have to assume. Response times will go up if we close 20 fire companies and our operations will be severely impacted" he told reporters at City Hall. 

When asked if that meant lives would be in danger, Cassano "our operations will be impacted and our response times will go up. We will do the best job possible, given the resources."

Reporting by Beth Fertig

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Comments [6]

Michael Meltzer

The union puts the public in a Catch-22 position. No one who values education wants to see a reduction in the teaching force (if it really is a teaching force), we have to back the union on that. But if keeping the roster at current level is not possible (and that's how it looks right now), we absolutely need more bang for the buck, and backing the union on seniority vs. merit is a commitment to mediocrity, no question. Kat is absolutely on target: we don't need pioneers or miracle workers, we just need people with standards who remember how things were before the baby-boom advent of "progressive education."

Feb. 18 2011 12:15 AM

The mediocrity culture is indeed all around us. Some of us are old enough to remember when it wasn't so. As a child in California, we were awed by the kids who came from New York and always skipped a grade (or two) as they were so much better educated than we were, and they came from public schools.

In my work I meet daily with kids and teens who can't even read the clock on the wall. Failures that serious take many adults many years to produce.

But at bottom, the "top" management all along the way clearly was negligent.

Off with their heads! - parents, adminstrators, boards, all of them!

Have a city TV channel that broadcasts from classrooms all over the city. Let the populace tune in, but not meddle. Just observe and study the results. Let the children speak for themselves on public media.

Transparency.

Why don't the schools have materials (books, computers, etc) for each and every child to use on site to fulfill study needs and homework assignments?

Why aren't public libraries and schools partnering in the education of NYC's youth?

How can a center of finance and culture produce such an illiterate and uncultured population? Incompetance. Lack of integrity.

Put our institutions and the people responsible for them under the microscope. There must be a virus somewhere.

Feb. 17 2011 08:38 PM
landless from Brooklyn

I feel sorry for the teachers; I see the material they work with: disrespectful, self-satisfied and vicious parents and children. How can teachers teach when parents don't bother to send their children to school on time? or pull the children out for vacations ? Instead of firing teachers, NYC should raise rents in public housing; those low rents discourage work.

Feb. 17 2011 08:24 PM
Tom from NY/NJ

The newer younger teachers do what ever they are asked,regardless. So the mill is just going to get worse.

Feb. 17 2011 07:46 PM
MusicTeacherMcGorry

Merit pay is discussed lightly, unfortunately, as if we are talking about stock performance. The devil is in the details. How do you account for low performance issues that are outside of a teachers control? How do music, dance, drama, art, and gym teachers get evaluated? Should creativity be tested as well? Should we develop an American Idol judging of children's creative performances? I'm just saying that it's easy to say that teachers should be paid based on merit, but there are many issues to consider and there are other areas that can be addressed to make further progress.

Feb. 17 2011 07:44 PM
Richard from Northern New Jersey

Teaching neither rewards merit nor dismisses incompetence. If the profession is ever to earn the respect it deserves, performance will have to be considered.

The public schools will remain state-run mills churning out naive, provincial, W-2 tax-paying consumers until this culture of mediocrity is addressed.

Feb. 17 2011 04:55 PM

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