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Touting alternatives, council leaders draw line on layoffs

To avoid laying off teachers, the Department of Education should cut technology spending, reduce cost estimates, and condense some central offices, according to a proposal set forth today by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

With Domenic Recchia, chair of the council’s finance committee, Quinn unveiled the proposal today at a hearing on the DOE’s proposed operating budget. The proposal came with a stern warning that council members are unlikely to approve a city budget that requires teacher layoffs.

“Make no mistake — we well do everything in our power to prevent teacher layoffs,” Quinn and Recchia said in a statement.

Mayor Bloomberg has said since November that the city will have to cut more than 6,000 teaching positions to balance the budget, and that 4,100 of the job losses would come from layoffs. His proposed budget reflects a $350 million gap for teacher salaries.

Council members think that money can be found elsewhere in the department’s budget and have already identified $75 million in cuts the department should make, Quinn said.

Quinn is not the first to suggest that the department could prevent teacher layoffs by cutting its budget elsewhere. But her voice is significant because she is the one who must broker a deal between council members and the city to get a budget approved before the end of this month. Identifying new cost-cutting options for the DOE is “a top focus of our budgetary negotiations,” she said in a statement.

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