No teacher layoffs in NYC 2012 budget

June 24, 2011 7:14:19 PM PDT
City lawmakers reached a budget deal Friday that will avert the layoffs of about 4,100 teachers partly through union concessions, but the city won't pay to replace thousands more public school instructors who quit or retire this year, officials said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were expected to shake hands on the agreement Friday evening, after lengthy negotiations in which lawmakers had sought to reach a deal on an approximately $66 billion city budget that's been hit by cutbacks in state and federal funding.

Under the deal, teacher study sabbaticals will be suspended for a year and the United Federation of Teachers has agreed to change its policies on the hiring of substitutes, said union spokesman Dick Riley.

A city official familiar with the agreement confirmed the details Friday. The offficial requested anonymity because it had not yet been formally announced.

The mayor's proposed shuttering of 20 fire companies - a move the city fire commissioner had said would slow firefighter response times - has also been averted, the official said.

Budget officials had estimated that saving the 4,100 teaching jobs would cost $300 million they said the city didn't have. Some of that money will now come from City Council, although the details of the arrangement were not yet clear.

Officials have said they expect about 2,000 teachers to quit or retire this year, and under the agreement those jobs would not be filled.

Friday evening's deal represented the final revision of the mayor's $65.72 billion proposal that he issued in May. The handshake agreement must be followed by a formal vote before the end of the month, when fiscal year 2011 ends.

The administration had been negotiating with an umbrella group of city unions in the hopes of drawing on a union health care fund to save the teachers' jobs, but those talks fell apart Thursday.

Teacher layoffs, frequently threatened in budget negotiations, have not actually been approved in the city budget process since the 1970s. This year, Bloomberg had unsuccessfully lobbied state lawmakers to overturn teacher seniority protections, which would have allowed officials to pick and choose which teachers received pink slips.

Officials had said the layoffs would have increased class sizes by two or three children, and elementary schools in poor neighborhoods would have been the hardest hit.

The mayor's proposal in May had included an array of other cost cutting measures, including a 12 percent cut to the city's libraries, the closure of some city swimming pools and the removal of food items like bread, pepper and ketchup from the menu in city jails.

The fate of those individual proposals in Friday's agreement wasn't immediately clear.