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UFT to Klein: Save money by using the teachers you already have

It will take “creative thinking and smart choices” to protect the schools from the mounting economic crisis, UFT President Randi Weingarten told Chancellor Klein in a letter today outlining three suggestions of how the DOE could cut costs and deploy its resources more efficiently.

All three recommendations, if implemented, would reduce the number of “excessed” teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve, who are currently under fire from The New Teacher Project for costing the system millions of dollars even though they aren’t working. The UFT says most ATRs have tried for months to find jobs but that principals aren’t given incentives to hire the often highly paid teachers.

Weingarten’s suggestions to Klein:

1. An immediate hiring freeze at the central Department of Education, and at the school and district level for any license areas where there are people in excess and available for placement.

2. A redeployment of teachers and other excessed personnel in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) into vacancies as they arise.

3. Develop a program to recertify excessed personnel in additional license areas, so they are available to fill vacancies as they arise.

Read Weingarten’s full letter after the jump.

September 24, 2008
Hon. Joel I. Klein
Chancellor
New York City Public Schools
Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:
The latest effects of the Wall Street lending crisis has left us all with a deep sense of uncertainty and unease, but it also presents us with an opportunity to stand together for the children of this city. With families across the five boroughs already struggling, it is all the more imperative that we do all we can to insulate our students and their classrooms from this economic crisis and ensure that every student has a strong, safe and stable learning environment.

As we navigate through this crisis, tough decisions obviously need to be made. As is our practice, we have some ideas and proposals on how we mitigate some of the challenges ahead without adversely affecting the classroom. Creative thinking and smart choices protected schools from cuts earlier this year, and I strongly believe that we can duplicate that success now.

In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, we urge you to adopt and implement the following three measures:

1. An immediate hiring freeze at the central Department of Education, and at the school and district level for any license areas where there are people in excess and available for placement.

2. A redeployment of teachers and other excessed personnel in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) into vacancies as they arise.

3. Develop a program to recertify excessed personnel in additional license areas, so they are available to fill vacancies as they arise.

The first two measures should help the Department of Education recognize immediate cost savings, and the third recommendation would be a valuable investment in personnel management.

We look forward to discussing these ideas and others in the days ahead.
Yours sincerely,
Randi Weingarten

Cc: Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler
Commissioner of Labor James F. Hanley
Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf

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