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School to start Sept. 9, not Sept. 8, after principal protest

The city is reversing a back-room deal that would have had teachers and students returning to school on the same day in September, giving staff no official planning time.

Now, instead of starting school on the day after Labor Day, students will have their first day on Wednesday, Sept. 9. That will give principals and teachers one day together to plan for the opening of school.

Principals union president Ernest Logan had attacked the plan to eliminate the beginning-of-the-year planning days, which he said were the most important days of the year. “No one used common sense here,” he told me.

After today’s schedule adjustment, Logan declared, “Common sense prevails,” in a message to principals. He also said his union would continue to discuss the effects of the schedule change with the Department of Education.

One effect of the change will be a stray school day for students at the end of next year. Instead of finishing on the last Friday in June, as they are this year, students will be required to report to school the following Monday, as well.

Below are Logan’s full statement and the city’s press release, which emphasizes that other components of the teachers union’s deal with the city will save the city $100 million a year. First, Logan’s full message to the principals in his union:

June 25, 2009 Dear Colleagues, For the past few days, I have been communicating with you about an agreement the city made with the UFT, scheduling teachers to return to school the same day as students. Since then, I have been in regular contact with the Chancellor about ways in which this agreement would affect preparation for the safe and orderly return of our children to school. Hundreds of you have also reached out to the Chancellor, and many of you have also contacted the Mayor. Thanks to your persistent efforts, we have recovered a day of preparation and planning for the opening of school. All staff will report to school on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, and students will return the following day, Wednesday, September 9, 2009. The last day of school for students will be Monday, June 28, 2010. We continue to discuss with the DOE the impact of this agreement. In the meantime, with school about to end tomorrow, I wanted to get this news to you as quickly as possible and to thank you for bringing about this change in the school calendar. Sincerely, Ernest

And here’s the city’s press release:

MAYOR BLOOMBERG, UFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT ON NEW CITY SCHOOLS SCHEDULE Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Randi Weingarten and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced an agreement to shift the first day of school for students from Tuesday, September 8th to Wednesday, September 9th for the 2009-2010 school year. Teachers will report on Tuesday, September 8th to prepare their classrooms for the arrival of students, and secondly for professional development. In order to maintain the same number of classroom instruction days, the last day of school for students will now be Monday, June 28th, instead of Friday, June 25th. Monday, June 28th had been previously scheduled as a professional development day for teachers and will continue serve as the last day of work for teachers. This agreement will allow us keep the school year intact with kids in the classroom for the same number of days, while providing teachers and principals an administrative day to prepare for the arrival of students, said Mayor Bloomberg. The rapidly growing burden of pension and healthcare costs has siphoned resources away from education, public safety and every other City service. The proposed new plans created with the UFT will save the City an average of $100 million annually over the next 20 years. The savings will help the City continue to increase education spending, which has nearly doubled over the last 7 years. I again want to thank Randi Weingarten and her team for helping to reduce long term City expenses, while also ensuring we continue the major progress we’ve made in improving City schools. Just as it was very important to go back to the tradition of teachers and students starting the school year after Labor Day, it was also important to give teachers time to prepare their classrooms before students arrive, said UFT President Weingarten. Now we’ve done both under this agreement. The deal also allows the City to save money, educators to preserve the age-55 retirement, and the schools an opportunity to revisit the budget if the cuts threaten to derail the progress we have been making. I want to thank the Mayor and his team for helping make this agreement work well for kids and for the schools. This agreement will be a real help to school leaders, teachers, and students, said Chancellor Klein. While maintaining hundreds of millions of dollars in pension cost savings, Mayor Bloomberg has ensured that our students will return in the fall to well-prepared schools where they can immediately begin to build on the great progress they’ve made over the past seven years. On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg and UFT President Weingarten announced an agreement to support legislation to create a modified health and pension plan for newly hired UFT members, while at the same time preserving all health and pension benefits for UFT members, including the union’s age-55 retirement benefit. The agreement also sets a seven percent annual return on fixed Tax-Deferred Annuity accounts for Teachers Retirement System and Board of Education Retirement System members. The agreement will save the City an average of $100 million annually over the next 20 years when legislation is enacted. As a component of the agreement, teachers would return to their traditional start date after Labor Day and would no longer report for two professional development days on the Thursday and Friday before Labor Day – required since 2005.