With a new round of budget projections already on the horizon, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent a clear message to City Hall today, warning Mayor Bloomberg that teacher layoffs would not be on the table to close gaps at the Department of Education.
“I cant imagine why you would go back to that idea again,” Quinn told reporters outside P.S./I.S. 187 in Washington Heights, where she spent more than an hour greeting students on their first day of school. “It didn’t work.”
It was just a couple of months into the last school year that Bloomberg announced his intention to lay off thousands of teachers in order to balance the city’s budget. But layoffs were ultimately averted after the city struck a deal with the UFT and City Council.
Quinn, who is planning a 2013 mayoral run, said she hasn’t discussed the prospect of teacher layoffs with the mayor yet this year. But she signaled that she would reprise last year’s fight if the mayor again levels a layoff threat.
“I think, and I certainly hope, that they saw how clear and strong we in the council felt about the idea of layoffs last year,” she said.
Quinn was joined by Councilman Robert Jackson, chair of the education committee, and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew at the school.
Despite the steady rainfall, the trio was in a cheery mood to reunite and talk about their budget victory in June.
“We were so happy that we could work with Christine and Robert,” Mulgrew said. “The teachers say thank you for stopping the layoffs.”
Quinn declined to discuss the seniority-based layoff policy, known as “last-in, first-out,” that she reportedly opposes, saying that she didn’t want to even talk about the prospect of layoffs. “We spent almost all of last year talking about teacher layoffs,” she said.
Instead, she said, the DOE needs to look more closely at its contracts and come up with the savings by trimming them.
After three consecutive years of budget cuts, Mulgrew said that there are now 8,000 fewer teachers and 20,000 more students in the system.
“Those numbers, we know, systemwide are putting more and more of a burden upon every school,” Mulgrew said. “So just the idea of talking about eliminating further is something that I’m hoping that no one even entertains.”