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Mayor's early budget calls for 6,100 teacher layoffs next year

Mayor Bloomberg called for over 6,100 teaching jobs to be cut from the city’s public schools next year in a new austerity budget released today.

The preliminary budget, which tries to close a massive gap left by the end of federal stimulus funding, will leave the Department of Education with a total deficit of $435 million. The department was spared a more brutal cut by the mayor’s decision to shift funding from other areas into the school system, partially filling the hole left by the loss of $853 million in stimulus funds and $350 million in budget cuts.

Folded into the city’s calculations is the assumption that another 1,500 teachers will be lost through the attrition schools experience every year. It also assumes that schools will bear the full brunt of the $435 million cut, though a spokeswoman for the DOE said officials have not decided what, if any, cuts will be made to the central administration.

“Right now, the City is facing unprecedented budget conditions and we recognize that everyone will have to make some very tough choices in the coming months,” said Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Sharon Greenberger in an email.

“While this is a preliminary estimate of what next year’s budget will look like, we are already identifying ways to reduce the financial impact on our schools and students,” she said.

Last year when the mayor announced his preliminary budget, he described a doomsday scenario that included cutting 8,500 teaching positions. Two months later, that number shrank to 6,400 — 4,000 of which would have come from layoffs, and the rest from attrition. Finally, the mayor rescinded the threat of teacher layoffs entirely, saying that the city would cover the deficit by eliminating a two percent raise teachers were expected to get.

Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he was hopeful that with a new chancellor coming into Tweed and a new governor in Albany, he and elected officials would be able to lobby for more state funding.

Incoming governor Andrew Cuomo “keeps saying he’s going to cut things, but once he gets into office and sees the realities he may think differently,” Mulgrew said.

“In these tough times, the money has to go to the classroom,” he said. “I think we have some things we can cut out of the central Department of Education. Then you have to look at what’s going on in Albany and hopefully we’ll have a better session this year. It was craziness last year, but there are opportunities this year.”

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