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At long last, the city and the union have struck a deal on ATRs

The United Federation of Teachers and the city Department of Education have reached a tentative agreement on how to treat teachers who have lost their official classroom jobs but are still on the city payroll, sources tell us. Leadership at the UFT will vote on whether to approve the agreement shortly.

I have no idea what is in this agreement. The Department of Education has supported a proposal to pull unplaced teachers off the payroll, while the union has dug in its heels against that, saying its priority is to maintain job security for its members. The union’s alternative proposal has included luring teachers into chosen retirement, rather than fire them, by offering buyout packages.

The group of teachers without actual positions in schools — known as the Absent Teacher Reserve or ATR pool — has been a matter of contention for the last year. The tension over what to do with ATRs escalated when a report concluded that the teachers cost the city an estimated $81 million in a period of just one year.

Some background on the fight:

The ATR is a byproduct of new contract rules about what to do with teachers who are removed from their positions. In the old contract, removed teachers had to be force-placed in a school — sent anywhere with an opening in their experience area, no matter how they or the principal felt about that. The new contract bans force placements. Both teachers and principals have praised that system, which is much more like an ordinary market, but it has one downside: Because the union contract still does not allow for teachers to be fired outright without a long, complex hearing process, many teachers are sitting on the city payroll without holding actual jobs.

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