human capital

City estimates savings of $300 million by laying off teachers

Chancellor-designee Dennis Walcott testifies at the New York City Council's Education Committee's Budget Hearing

City school officials said today that they would need roughly $300 million to avoid laying off thousands of teachers next year.

Today’s twice-delayed City Council hearing on the DOE’s preliminary expense budget for 2012 focused on how to avoid teacher layoffs and the current “last in, first out” rules that require the city to lay off teachers based on seniority.

Testifying before the City Council for the first time in his new role as chancellor-designate, Dennis Walcott fielded questions about how the city can avoid mass layoffs. And, although he’s still being referred to by some DOE officials as Deputy Mayor, Walcott was treated just like his predecessors by the Committee: with skepticism.

Council members were quick to offer their congratulations and support to Walcott, but then became less welcoming when the subjects of teacher layoffs and ending “last in, first out” rules were raised.

Many council members questioned whether or not Mayor Bloomberg had requested enough funds from Albany, with several suggesting that perhaps the $600 million Bloomberg requested ($200 million of which was set to go to schools), was deliberately low, perhaps as a strategy to continue pushing for changes to “last in, first out” rules.

“How much money do I need to save these teachers jobs?” asked Upper West Side Councilwoman Gail Brewer.

According to Walcott’s prepared remarks, if the teaching workforce was reduced by 6,166 teachers — 1,500 through attrition and the rest through layoffs — the DOE would save approximately $435 million, with $300 million in savings coming from layoffs alone. The proposed savings of $300 million would be a fraction of next year’s proposed budget of $19.1 billion.

DOE spokeswoman Barbara Morgan says that the way the DOE calculates the amount saved by layoffs and attrition is the same. It is arrived at by multiplying the number of potential layoffs (4,666) by the average salary of a newer teacher (around $53,000). The same average salary is used for both layoff and attrition budget estimates, since attrition is higher amongst newer teachers.

During the hearing, the cost of saving teaching jobs fluctuated wildly, with some members citing the November 2010 plan. Council Chair Robert Jackson repeatedly asked Walcott and Chief Financial Officer Veronica Conforme to explain the calculations, until Walcott said he would double-check the numbers.

Overall, the DOE is looking to save $700 million via teacher layoffs, attrition, and mandate relief, such as paying less into pensions, according to Morgan. Even if the state or the city were to offer to fill in this gap, she cautioned that it still might not be enough to ensure that all teachers keep their jobs because other rising costs — such as heating oil and student busing — could increase the city’s budget gap.

The DOE’s Preliminary Budget from February is excerpted below. Mayor Bloomberg’s full Preliminary Budget Report for 2012 is available here and the Council’s response to the Mayor is here.  The final budget is due to be released on May 5th.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.