NY1 Exclusive: Buyout For Teachers Not Likely To Happen
The city and teachers' union have been fighting for years over what to do with a pool of teachers who've lost their jobs at schools but are still employed by the school system. Now, it looks like a buyout offer the city hoped to make is unlikely to go through. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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There are 1,800 teachers who lost their jobs at schools but are still employed by the school system. Many worked at schools that closed or teach subjects schools have cut back on, like art. They work as substitutes, collecting full salary and benefits. It's up to principals whether to hire them or not.
But the city wants them off the payroll. So in May, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced a somewhat radical plan: he'd offer these teachers the first buy-out program for public employees in recent city history.
"If you're a teacher who can't find a permanent job in our schools after a year, we will offer you a generous incentive to resign and pursue another career," Walcott said in May.
He said it would be the most generous buyout any city has ever offered teachers and he hoped to have it in place by the beginning of the school year. But sources now tell NY1 it may never happen. Meanwhile, the number of teachers without permanent work has swelled, from 800 in May to 1,800 now.
"We are spending more than $100 million on teachers who aren't interested in teaching," Walcott said in May.
But try telling that to the dozens who came to a job fair Wednesday evening hoping to find permanent work.
"I want a job," said teacher Jonathan Dobbs. "I want to teach. I want to be in the classroom."
When the Chancellor announced the buyout, leaders of the teachers union said they were on board and had been asking for a such an option for years. But since then, NY1 has learned that the two sides have not been able to agree on terms because the city's idea of a generous buyout hasn't come close to matching the union's definition of an acceptable one.
Teachers who might qualify were already skeptical.
"They wouldn't offer me enough," said teacher Judith Allainer. "$10,000? Come on. When I'm making much more than that?"
"What would I like?" said Gibbs. "Give me years on my pension. If I'm a 15-year teacher, give me 20 years and I'll take a buyout."
Many say the system is stacked against them finding jobs, saying principals prefer new teachers with much lower salaries.
In fact, minutes after walking into the hiring fair Wednesday, teachers began streaming out.
"It's basically an empty room with five principals," said teacher Caroline Schulz.
"There's no one up there," said teacher Jame Torres. "There's no schools. Mostly math, special ed and nothing is being offered."
The DOE says it expects many will find jobs soon and says negotiations over the buyout continue. But NY1's sources say the chances they'll reach a deal, particularly under the current mayor, are very slim.