Albany to Consider Teacher Layoff Law

Albany to vote on teacher seniority rules in layoffs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    How will it affect city schools? (Published Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011)

    State lawmakers are poised to vote on eliminating seniority as the key factor in teacher layoffs.

    But the controversial plan to end the "last in, first out" law may not have enough support.

    "It would undermine the fabric of union collective bargaining," said State Sen. Tony Avella.  "I don't know that they have the votes to pass this."

    The Senate Education Committee expects to take up the teacher-seniority bill Tuesday, and it could hit the Senate floor this week. But the bill has no Assembly sponsor and appears to have little support in that body.

    The impending vote loomed as the Bloomberg administration stepped up its efforts to remind teachers, students and parents the stakes of a budget crisis.

    Some New York City schools could lose 20 percent of their current teachers under a doomsday layoff scenario released by city officials as part of their campaign to change teacher seniority laws.

    The school-by-school breakdown of an estimated 4,675 layoffs shows that 80 percent of the city's public schools would be affected. Most of approximately 1,600 schools would lose one to five teachers.

    Mayor Bloomberg has said that Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget, which would cut $1.4 billion in aid to city schools, will leave him with no option but to lay off teachers.

    New York City has not laid off large numbers of teachers since 1976.

    Under the state law that Bloomberg is seeking to overturn, any teacher layoffs would be governed by seniority, with the most recently hired teachers getting the ax. Schools staffed mainly with recent hires could lose 30 to 40 percent of their teachers, and veteran teachers from other schools would replace them.

    The only teachers who would be spared from layoffs are those who teach special education, English as a second language and speech improvement, which are positions that are harder to fill.

    City Hall released the layoff list Sunday as the state Senate prepared to vote on a bill that would allow the city to lay off teachers based performance rather than seniority.

    First year science teacher Stacey Burgoyne, from Corona, knew she could be on the list.

    "Where do my students go?" said Burgoyne. "Or the teacher who takes over my position. They're gonna end up with 45 students in that classroom. That doesn't solve any problem."

    United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew charged Monday that Bloomberg "is trying to create fear to push legislation in Albany."

    "There is no need to do teacher layoffs in New York City," Mulgrew said.

    But the mayor had a response ready for Mulgrew.

    "Any time he wants to write us a check to close what is now a $600 million deficit I'll be happy to cash the check and say thank you," said the Mayor.

    Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo's budget director, Robert Megna, has said that the city has $2 billion in reserves that could be used to offset the loss of school funding.

    Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto noted Monday that Bloomberg announced a plan to cut thousands of teacher jobs in November, before the state budget was released.

    But the mayor reiterated that teacher layoffs are on the agenda.
     
    "We have a budget problem," he said. "The public has a right to know what's going on. We're not trying to scare anybody."