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DOE Hiring Freeze Continues As City Schools Do Not Get Aid In State Budget

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TWC News: DOE Hiring Freeze Continues As City Schools Do Not Get Aid In State Budget
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A state budget agreement did not include $250 million in education aid, a punishment to the city for not reaching a deal on teacher evaluations. The city has been preparing for the cut, but its impact on the classroom started months before Wednesday night's budget deal. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

A $250 million cut in the city's education aid appeared certain Wednesday night in Albany. But it trickled into the classroom almost two months ago.

"January 29, to be exact," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

That's when the DOE ordered a hiring freeze. They have already lost 400 teachers through attrition. The goal is 700.

"There is some pain that's going to be felt, whether it's through restriction or reduction of after-school services and not having as many teachers," Walcott said.

The cut is retribution from Albany after the city and the teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers, failed to reach an agreement on an evaluation system for teachers.

"The penalty, though, is definitely impacting us," Walcott said. "It does not impact the UFT."

"The sad part here is, they're still playing politics with this," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

At one point Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the State Assembly pledged to restore the cash. He was unsuccessful.

"The city did not receive the $240 million," Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The fact the cut was already put into action weeks ago came as a surprise to some City Council members.

"The judge should hold them in contempt of court and, if necessary, fine them and put them in jail," said Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson.

Parents have sued the state for tying education aid to an evaluation system.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled the city could not go forward with the cut until a final decision was made on whether the state could even tie school funding to teacher evaluations.

Walcott said they went forward with it anyway because the city is appealing that decision.

"We have a responsibility to deal with the bottom line, and that's what we are doing, is dealing with our bottom line," Walcott said. "And unfortunately, the state has withheld this money, and this has a direct impact on our students."

Both sides will be back in state court early next month for arguments over the education cuts. Until then, the chancellor says this hiring freeze is in effect.

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