By Stephanie VanderVelden
New York City maintains the largest public school district in the nation. Due to an unstable economy in recent years, it is not alarming that fat must be trimmed from some city service budgets. However, the news that over 6,100 teachers will be cut from public school instruction came as a shock to teachers in New York City.
Despite an estimated increase of over $2 billion dollars in tax revenue for the next two years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has resolved to continue with teacher cuts. The immediate layoffs would leave 4,666 teachers out of a job. Another 1,500 public school teachers would be pushed out of the district over time. Losing this many teachers in New York City represents one out of every 12 teachers currently employed in the district.
Bloomberg’s administration proposed the cuts in November and have been revising and reintroducing the proposal as part of the plan to make up for a multibillion dollar budget shortfall. Although funding for public education has increased by nearly $2 billion for this year and the next, the mayor’s office maintains that cuts are necessary to achieve fiscal goals. The cities projected tax revenue for the upcoming year has jumped to $81.8 billion, increasing from the $79.8 as estimated in November.
Even more appalling to threatened teachers is the push by Bloomberg to cut teachers based on merit, not seniority. This would put long term, career teachers at risk of losing their jobs, while newer teachers may keep their positions. While Bloomberg and his administration support the merit based cuts, the city is requiring junior teachers to be first in the layoff rounds.
The proposal for the recommended budget will take place February 17, 2011. The first proposal is likely to be revised several times before the City Council votes in late June.