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Mike eases up on pink slips
Talk of firing 15,000 teachers subsides in advance of stimulus money

The Brooklyn Paper
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg is backing down from his threat to fire 15,000 teachers.

The $787 billion stimulus package will reportedly send $1.1 billion to New York City schools. With that funding, the city could avoid massive teacher layoffs, Bloomberg announced.

“Support from Washington will help us to weather this economic crisis,” Bloomberg said.

“Stimulus dollars will go a long way in helping us to prevent our country’s financial crisis from turning into a crisis in our classrooms,” said schools Chancellor Joel Klein. “We look forward to working with our partners at the state level to ensure this money is directed equitably and where it’s needed the most – our classrooms.”

Hearing the mayor’s remarks, Brooklyn parents are hopeful that teachers’ jobs are now secure.

“I feel that it was really political posturing from the beginning, putting that out there that we’re going to be laying off 15,000 teachers. I never thought that was reality,” said Christopher Spinelli, president of District 22’s Community Education Council (CEC).

The loss of 15,000 teachers – which would have been done through layoffs and attrition – would have devastated the school system, parents said.

“I was certainly concerned that if there were going to be cuts, it was going to hit in those areas like the arts. The principals are not going to let go of an ELA teacher, they’re going to let go of an art teacher.”

Bloomberg is now pressuring the state legislature to provide sufficient funding to city schools in the next fiscal budget.

“Working with the state, we hope we’ll be able to keep more of our teachers in our public school classrooms,” Bloomberg said. “We all want to ensure that our schools keep innovating and that our students keep learning while shielding our schools and classrooms from potential harm. I am confident our colleagues in Albany will join me in making our difficult budget situation as tolerable as possible for all of our schools.”

Local union organizations, including the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), will hold a rally on March 5 to pressure state politicians to allocate funding. The rally will begin at 4 p.m. outside of City Hall. For updated information, visit www.uft.org or contact 212-777-7500.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) says Bloomberg should look at his own budget to find money for public schools.

Gentile said, “Federal and state money aren’t our only resources in maintaining crucial services in this city. The mayor has $2.6 million in a retiree trust fund that he could apply over the coming years toward retiree health benefits, freeing up millions in the city budget for teachers, libraries, senior services or firehouses. I’m asking the mayor to do more than rely on the help of Washington D.C. and Albany, and to make use of the local resources we have.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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