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E4E: Time limits needed for ATR pool teachers who can’t get hired

The teacher group Educators 4 Excellence wants “excessed” teachers who can’t find a full-time job in two April-to-August hiring seasons to be put on unpaid leave, wading into a debate that’s a key sticking point in contract negotiations between the city and the teachers union.

The group took the stand Wednesday morning in a short policy paper on the Absent Teacher Reserve, a pool of around 1,000 teachers who have lost their full-time positions because of budget cuts, declining enrollment or school closures.

In the paper, E4E proposes that the city continue to cover the salaries and benefits of teachers for up to two years after they lost their position. If they can’t get re-hired over the course of two hiring seasons, they should be placed on unpaid leave, the group argues.

E4E is the latest group to chime in on the issue, which has been at the center of negotiations between the city and the UFT in contract talks. Last month, advocacy groups pressed Chancellor Carmen Fariña to clarify her position on how hiring decisions should be made, a central issue in the ATR debate.

The city spends at least $100 million per year in salaries and benefits for teachers in the ATR, an arrangement that opponents say is an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars. The pool’s teachers fill short-term vacancies in different schools throughout the year, which supporters contend is actually saving principals money because they don’t have to pay for substitutes.

The union believes that the deck is stacked against teachers in the ATR pool, whose salaries are often higher and more costly for principals to hire them over less-experienced teachers. E4E’s paper proposes that the city subsidize higher-salaried teachers for eight years once they are permanently hired.