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For Bloomberg, Teacher Layoffs No Longer Just A Threat

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TWC News: For Bloomberg, Teacher Layoffs No Longer Just A Threat
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In his budget address Friday, Mayor Bloomberg had a message about the threat of teacher layoffs: this time they're real. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday told reporters that because of federal and state cuts the city still needs to lose 6,000 teaching positions.

He says in 2002, the state paid for 49 percent of the city's education costs. That contribution has been going down steadily. Next year, the state will fund just 39 percent of city education costs.

But the teachers union says the mayor hasn't done enough to get state help.

"When I was in Albany, throughout the budget process, the mayor was not up there with us, working on education funding, so blaming someone else is really disingenuous," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

The numbers released Friday did change slightly from earlier estimates. The city now figures 2,000 teachers will leave the system voluntarily, up from 1,500. That means 500 fewer layoffs but the total is still the same: 6,000 teachers cut from the system.

"The mayor claims to care about the city's fiscal future, but he's shown absolutely no consideration for our children's future. Because class size, if these cuts go through, will be the largest that they've been in over 30, 40 years, back before we even have statistics," said Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.

A lot could still change before the final budget is due at the end of June, and the mayor will face serious pressure to avoid the layoffs. Meanwhile, New Yorkers can expect him to be pressuring Albany to change the law dictating who would be laid off.

The rule now is layoffs would be done by reverse seniority, so the most recently hired teachers would be the first to be laid off. The mayor says the worst teachers should go, not the newest. Either way, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on Friday acknowledged class sizes will go up.

"All schools will feel this one way or the other, whether they have to layoff staff or they'll be impacted by other staff coming in. So we have to manage this and manage it very well," Walcott said.

Many in the education realm, though, say no amount of management can make-up for losing eight percent of the teaching force.

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