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A closer look at the city's salary freeze savings math

Earlier today, I wondered how the city figured that eliminating planned 2 percent raises for teachers and principals would save $400 million next year, considering that an identical cut to this year’s budget in January was projected to yield just $148 million.

Now I have the answer.

Each time planned raises were reduced — in January from 4 percent to 2 percent, and today from 2 percent to nothing — the city cut next year’s budget by $150 million, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte. Together, the two reductions amount to $300 million in savings.

The extra $100 million is what the city set aside this year in case it reached a contract deal with the teachers union to turn Mayor Bloomberg’s intention to give 2 percent raises each year for two years into reality. But without a new contract, the city never had to spend any of this money. After adjusting its budget in January, the department still had about $100 million to roll over to next year.

In addition to the $400 million in salary savings, the city will save about $350 million by cutting school and central budgets, Forte said. A roughly 4 percent cut to individual school budgets will save about $313 million, and the remaining $38 million will come in cuts to the department’s central administration staff and expenses. The department hasn’t ruled out central administration layoffs, Forte said.

Central administration staff members received a retroactive raise in December, but they won’t get any additional raises while teacher and principal salaries are frozen, Chancellor Klein said today. Teachers will continue to receive mandated “step” increases as they add years of service or academic credentials.

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