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Timing of district’s hiring patterns key to how they weather layoffs

Most city teachers hired since the fall of 2007 will lose their jobs if current draconian budget cut predictions come through. But that cutoff date could change — and where it falls will determine not just which teachers are laid off, but which neighborhoods lose the most teachers.

State law and the city union contract dictate that the newest teachers must be laid off first. Because of that system, schools and neighborhoods with the most new teachers — hard-to-staff districts with high teacher turnover and areas that have seen jumps in their enrollment — would take the nastiest blows.

Right now, it’s still unclear exactly how many teachers will have to be laid off as the city waits on a state budget that is six weeks overdue. The exact number of layoffs dictates how many years and months of hiring the city will have to wipe out.

In March, when the city was projecting a worst-case-scenario of 8,500 layoffs, Chancellor Joel Klein outlined projections of how many teachers each community school district would lose. Under the latest estimates, which call for 4,400 pink slips, the Bronx would still be hardest hit. But neighborhoods in Manhattan — whose new teachers are on average slightly less new — are seeing greater relief.

In the earlier projections, for example, both District 7 in the Bronx and Manhattan’s District 2 were slated to lose around 20 percent of their teachers. In the new estimates, the percentage of teachers lost in District 7 has shrunk to 14 percent. But the share of teachers that could be laid off in District 2 dropped to 9 percent — down 10 percentage points, the largest dip in any district.

The shift reflects the timing of districts’ hiring patterns. District 2’s hiring boom started slightly earlier than hiring upticks in other areas of the city, said Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte.

And if that time-line cutoff shifts as the city adjusts the number of teacher positions it decides to ax, it will also shift how the layoffs are spread around districts, depending on when their hiring sped up.

“The situation is really fluid and it’s amazing when you start changing numbers how the situation changes,” Forte said. “A couple of weeks would make a difference.”

Here are the city’s most recent estimates of how many teachers each district could lose: