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DOE, Teachers Still At Odds Over Evaluations

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The Department of Education and the teachers' union must reach a deal on teacher evaluations by Jan. 17 or the DOE will lose $300 million from its coffers. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

To avoid the multi-million dollar loss, the teachers' union and the city have to sign off on a teacher evaluation plan, the state has to give its OK and the schools must put it in place by the January deadline.

"We got somewhat sidetracked with the hurricane, but we've been having regular discussions," school's Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

Discussions between the teachers union and the DOE have dragged on -- and led nowhere -- for years.

"We are talking about the largest school system in New York City -- changing the entire culture," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the teachers' union.

Deadlines have come and gone before, costing the DOE millions of dollars. But nothing has compared to the $300 million hit they could face in January.

Shael Polakow-Suransky, the DOE's chief academic officer, said this cut would be much more painful than the others.

"It would be terrible in the middle of the school year, when that money is already budgeted, to lose it," Polakow-Suransky said.

State officials said they need the city's proposal for a new evaluation system soon -- ideally next week -- in order to have time to review and approve it.

But Walcott said he hopes to have an agreement by the end of December at best.

Walcott also said the conversations have been going well, but the union disagrees.

"There's a long way to go right now," Mulgrew said. "There has always been a divide."

Mulgrew suggested there may not even be a deal in place before the deadline.

"We are not going to agree on something just because of political pressure," he said.

But that pressure is ratcheting up. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said this week she blames Mulgrew and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not having a proposal yet.

Advocacy groups have also begun publicly calling on both sides to reach a deal. Some are concerned about the loss of funds, others want the teacher evaluation system put in place.

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