Hundreds of Teachers on NYC Payroll as Schools Suspend Hiring

About 700 laid-off teachers were still on the city’s payroll with no school placements when the Ministry of Education stopped hiring on Friday, just a month before the first day of school.

An internal presentation from the Department of Education, leaked to The Post, revealed that hundreds of teachers in “redundancy,” or who have been forced to leave their schools, largely due to budget cuts, are about $90 million a year in average salary and fringe benefits for the teachers would not charge in classrooms.

The figures were made public when principals and inspectors were informed Friday that access to school budgets had been frozen – putting hires and placements on hold – in connection with a legal battle unfolding in state courts. After The Post reported on the hiatus, the city announced it would wind down late Friday night.

A former elementary school teacher on Staten Island told The Post that she has applied for all the open positions within her certification in the municipality.

“Nobody calls back,” she said. “I don’t understand. I’m well judged, my principal would say very nice things about me when they call.”

“I can’t prepare, but that’s where I spend my summers. It’s ridiculous not being able to plan for next year, and they’re just going to put me in a position, that’s ridiculous,” she added.

The DOE had reduced the number of unemployed teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve.
Paul Martinka

Most of these redundant staffers resulted in June after the DOE slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from school budgets, citing declines in enrollment and the impending expiration of federal stimulus funds.

By the end of last school year, the DOE had reduced the number of unemployed teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve, or the “ATR,” to 133 unmarried staffers.

“People are ATRs for a variety of reasons,” the Staten Island teacher said, including those who let go because of ineffectiveness or misconduct, not because of the loss of enrollment. “We’ve had ATRs fired from their positions for a reason. I am not one of them, but now I am grouped in that category.”

Less than half were on probation at the end of the month.
About one in five teachers without an internship was newly hired last school year.
William Farrington

About one in five teachers who still didn’t have an internship were new last school year. Less than half were on probation at the end of the month.

“A lot of those teachers are new teachers,” said Jessica Beck, a former West Village high school teacher who was outrageous but found a new place. “This is a great way to get new teachers out of the classroom and into other professions.”

Accurate counts are expected to fluctuate through September.

Earlier this summer, school chancellor David Banks predicted that all fired teachers would be picked up at other schools by the fall.

In recent school years, the DOE has shrunk the expensive ATR pool through policies that have placed the majority of staff in permanent positions.

In addition to the unrest, Banks said this week that a court order temporarily banning schools from further budget cuts has disrupted the processing of new placements. The DOE appeared in court on Friday to argue for the restraining order to be lifted, but was ultimately rejected by New York appellate judge Bahaati Pitt.

An internal memo from The Post revealed that Galaxy, a system system administrators use to view budgets and pay for staff and school materials, was “on hold” “at the moment”, citing legal counsel’s advice.

Emma Vadehra, the Chief Operating Officer at the DOE, acknowledged that the freeze is “extremely inconvenient.”

A City Hall spokesperson said later on Friday that it is “ensuring that the DOE school-based budgeting system remains fully available. As such, the Galaxy application will be available tomorrow morning to ensure critical school activities are conducted in accordance with court directions.” .”

It also pledged to take “every possible step” to ensure the lawsuit does not affect students and families when they return to school in the fall.

“These delays, and stopping everyone from watching Galaxy is just done out of spite,” Beck said. “Ultimately, if this decision is about kids, and it’s about kids and learning, I don’t see how pausing anything helps support learning and kids.”

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