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City Teachers Scramble for New Positions

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

education, classroom, school, school supplies, class, teachers, students (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

More than 1,900 city teachers let go by their principals because of budget cuts are still looking for new jobs this fall — and continue to receive salaries while they're assigned to work as subs and look for permanent positions within the school system.

Letting go of teachers for budget reasons has become an annual tradition in New York City, known as "excessing." This is the fifth consecutive year in which schools have had their budgets slashed. This year, individual schools lost an average of 2.4 percent of their city funds. Principals have responded by raising class sizes in order to let go of a teacher, or by moving librarians back to the classroom.

As many as 3,325 teachers were in the excess pool at its peak this summer, compared to 2,993 last summer — a figure that included more than 1,000 teachers who lost their jobs in previous years. But the total number of teachers still looking for work shrank to 1,940 by August 19, about the same number as this time last year.

It Could Have Been Worse

The teachers unions said it's not as bad as it feared.

"One potential reason could be that a larger-than-expected number of retirements and attrition could have created an unusual number of vacancies in schools," United Federation of Teachers spokesman Dick Riley said.

This allowed principals to pluck more teachers out of the excess pool, which is also called the Absent Teacher Reserve.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been lobbying to put a time limit on how long teachers can stay in the ATR pool if they don't find permanent jobs, because it costs the city about $100 million annually. As of August 19, 68 teachers have been in the ATR pool since 2006.

This year, as part of the deal to avoid any layoffs, the union agreed to give the Department of Education more flexibility in assigning teachers from the ATR pool to work as subs.

Other Positions Cut from Schools

The city expects to reassign 555 principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, attendance teachers and school secretaries to other positions because their principals couldn't afford to keep them on staff. There are no comparable figures for last year.

The city also has new estimates for how many non-teaching positions will be cut from schools this fall because the no-layoff pledge only applied to the teachers union.

It appears that a total of 777 positions were axed, including school aides, family workers, parent coordinators, health service aides, drivers and engineers.

Most of those come from District Council 37.

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Comments [2]

Geraldine Swanson from NYC

The powers that be at both the DOE and City Hall seem to forget that it was they who negoiated with the UFT for the Absent Reserve Teacher pool. It certianly makes more sense for schools to absorb excessed teachers, many of whom are excellent educators whose excessing was the result of forces beyond their control. As having been placed in excess twice during my 21 year career with the DOE, both times due to my position being eliminated city-wide, I know how uncomfortable it feels. Also knowing several seasoned and expierenced educators who have been in the ATR pool who have been teaching a full teacher load this past academic year, I see the inate flaws in the system. These expierenced teachrs have been unfairly tarnished and bad-mouthed by the press and others for being "poor teachers" when in fact they are not. Perhaps suspending the Teaching Fellows program, and instead' putting that financial support behind present employees who are in excess and willing to be recertified in shotage areas might be a better solution. As a recent retiree, yes, I was one of those who decided to leave in June, I am concerned the profession I spendt so many years in is now being degraded by many people and in the media. It is a sad time, indeed, for this nation when those to whom the future of this nation is entrusted are now the root of all evil.

Aug. 24 2011 11:41 AM
Vincent C. Wojsnis

One aspect of the problem that deserves more coverage is that in order to save money, principals are not hiring teachers licensed to teach certain subjects and forcing other unqualified teachers to teach out of license. This is particularly true of middle school social studies teachers. Middle School principals are opting not to hire licensed social studies teachers and forcing literacy teachers to teach it instead or they've contrived a whole new catagory called "humanities" instead of social studies. One of the reasons they're getting away with this is because of last year's decision by the NYS Regents to elliminate the Intermediate Social Studies Exam. Because so much emphasis has been placed on testing principals have little or no insentive to hire qualified social studies teachers. So a disproportionate number of teachers in the ATR are social studies teachers, who along with music, art, foreign language, physical and health ed teachers are the latest victims of Bloomberg's "reforms;" the ellimination of a broad and robust curriculum for NYC public school students.

Aug. 24 2011 10:24 AM

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