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June 6, 2014
Principals can now hire new teachers in most subjects, ending five-year freeze
Principals can now hire new teachers in almost every subject area and grade, officials said this week, ending a half-decade hiring freeze that cut costs but also frustrated would-be teachers.
August 31, 2012
City lifts some restrictions on schools still in need of teachers
With days to go before the start of the new school year, the city has lifted years-old hiring restrictions on six teaching areas: physical…
August 1, 2012
Major payroll improprieties alleged at Fort Hamilton High School
The principal of Fort Hamilton High School is under investigation for underpaying more than a dozen new teachers, sources say. A scheme to underpay more than a dozen teachers at a Brooklyn high school has landed the school's longtime principal under investigation. The scheme, which investigators have been probing since this spring, could also put Fort Hamilton High School on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay to teachers so desperate for a position that they accepted one with low pay, no benefits, and little security. The Department of Education's Office of Special Investigations is in the process of investigating Jo Ann Chester, principal of the Bay Ridge school since 1999, a department spokeswoman confirmed. Sources close to the investigation say investigators have been digging into payroll practices at the 4,200-student high school since at least April. The school was already under investigation because of test scores that the city deemed suspicious. Last week, a grievance from a teacher who had been underpaid was sustained, entitling him to back pay, union officials confirmed. The scheme allowed Chester to circumvent three-year-old hiring restrictions and blocked the school from being assigned short-term substitutes from the Absent Teacher Reserve, the city's pool of teachers without permanent positions. It also saved the school hundreds of thousands of dollars.
March 21, 2012
Fiscal picture, turnaround open more spots for new teachers
A slightly improved fiscal picture and a higher-than-usual number of anticipated vacancies mean more new teachers are likely to enter city classrooms this fall. Two groups that prepare new teachers, the national nonprofit Teach for America and the city's own Teaching Fellows program, both say they are planning to boost the number of recruits that they direct toward city schools. Together, they are anticipating hiring about 1,100 new teachers — far fewer than in their heyday but up by more than a third since last year. The groups are by no means the only source of new teachers for city schools, whose principals also hire teachers trained through traditional certification programs and teachers who are already working in other districts. But their anticipated enrollment represents a barometer for evaluating the city's teacher hiring climate, which for years has been dampened by restrictions introduced in 2009. Then-Chancellor Joel Klein introduced the restrictions as a way to cut costs when economic recession kicked in and the city's fiscal picture dimmed. They have not been lifted, but over time the Department of Education exempted some subjects and geographic areas and now says on its teacher hiring page that restrictions f0r the 2012-2013 school year "are unavailable at this time," suggesting that principals might well face different or fewer constraints when filling open positions this year. Why the change? One big reason is that the city's finances are on the upswing: Unlike in recent years, Mayor Bloomberg is not threatening teacher layoffs this summer, saying that the city's improving fiscal picture does not warrant them. In addition, the city is planning a massive organizational change, "turnaround," at 33 schools that could free up as many as 1,700 positions for new teachers — many of which would fall under an exemption in the existing hiring restrictions.
August 17, 2011
As hiring freeze thaws, more new teachers enter city classrooms
For the first time since the city imposed a hiring freeze two years ago, the number of teachers entering the classroom from alternative certification programs has risen. While some senior teachers worry about finding positions, two prominent organizations, Teach For America and New York City's Teaching Fellows, are contributing hundreds of new teachers to the city's teaching force. The organizations estimate that they will bring about 800 new teachers into classrooms this fall. That would be 25 percent more than last year, when the groups brought on just under 650 new teachers, about 2,000 less than in 2006. The dropoff began in 2009, when the Department of Education enacted restrictions limiting most hiring to teachers who were already in the system. The policy severely curtailed recruitment plans for TFA and Teaching Fellows and in a matter of two years, both were producing just a few hundred teachers per year. Most of those teachers worked in shortage areas, such as science and special education. Now, as the city has eased some longstanding hiring restrictions in new subjects, those numbers are inching back up in response to demand.
August 5, 2011
As school year nears, city opens door to more new teachers
For the first time in more than two years, city principals are being told they can look outside the city's current teaching corps for new English and social studies teachers. The deadline for new English, social studies, and math teachers to enter the city's hiring system has been extended until Monday because "opportunities may exist for schools to hire new teachers in these areas," according to the Department of Education's hiring website. The schools aren't being given carte blanche to hire teachers externally in those subjects, but they are being told they can apply for exceptions to the city's two-year-old hiring freeze. In the past, principals have been granted exceptions from the freeze if they could show they had searched exhaustively within the system. "We are pleased to share that schools may be able to receive an exception" to hire teachers in the subject areas, read an email sent by a DOE official to colleges and universities that supply student teachers. Principals are responding to the encouragement. In the last week, the DOE's online hiring system has had positions added by schools that would not previously have been allowed to hire externally under the restrictions.
June 27, 2011
School budgets to be trimmed by average of 2.43 percent
With their schools' budgets for next year finally in hand, principals are now being tasked with cutting nearly 2.5 percent. Department of Education officials announced the cuts this morning in an online presentation to principals, many of whom had grown anxious about heading into summer vacation without knowing how much they would be able to spend next year. School-level budgets, usually announced in late May or early June, had been held up by city negotiations over Mayor Bloomberg's threat to lay off teachers. A deal reached Friday night averted layoffs with a mix of union concessions and City Council funds. Now, even though there will be no layoffs, schools will still suffer budget cuts of $178 million, or an average of 2.43 percent, according to the presentation. That follows a 4 percent cut last year, and school officials say many schools remain likely to trim their staffs. "Given the current budget conditions, we expect that many schools will be compelled to excess teachers," reads one slide of the presentation. "Many of the teachers placed in excess will be capable and effective teachers, and we are committed to creating opportunities for them to be promptly hired elsewhere." The DOE's central administration budget will fall by 13.5 percent, according to the presentation.
October 19, 2010
A cheer, then a caution, as theater teacher hiring rules relax
Add theater to the list of subjects for which principals have been allowed to circumvent the city's longstanding teacher hiring freeze. The city allowed four principals to hire theater teachers from outside the school system last month, breaking from the hiring restrictions in place since May 2009 that limit most job searches to current city teachers. The Center for Arts Education, a group that advocates for more arts instruction in the city's public schools, released a statement cheering the city for opening hiring for theater teachers and calling on it to end the freeze for all arts teachers. The city has just 100 theater teachers, and 20 percent of schools have no arts teachers at all, according to CAE. But city officials said the hiring freeze hasn't been lifted in theater the way it has been in other subjects, such as Latin and English as a second language. Instead, the city simply granted exemptions to all of the schools looking for theater teachers in mid-September, according to Ann Forte, a Department of Education spokeswoman.
August 11, 2010
Principals given more latitude in hiring, but only in the Bronx
Teaching jobs in the Bronx have been so slow to fill that the city today released many from year-old hiring restrictions. The Department of Education informed Bronx principals this morning that they are now free to hire English, chemistry, math, social studies, and science teachers from outside the current teaching corps. In other boroughs, a hiring freeze in place since May 2009 require principals to fill most vacancies with teachers who are already working in the system. When Ramon Gonzalez, the principal of MS 223 in the South Bronx, heard about the change, he snapped up four teachers in six minutes. Gonzalez said he had been holding off on hiring from within the system because none of the 40 teachers he had interviewed met MS 223's exacting standards. Plus, he already had four strong candidates ready to sign on with the school the moment he could offer them jobs. Two of the English and social studies teachers had worked in temporary positions at MS 223 last year, one as a substitute and the other as an intern. Another wanted to move to a city school from the suburbs. And the last was coming off a stint as teacher trainer at Teachers College. Gonzalez had been stringing them along all summer, even offering them part-time work in hopes that they'd wait out the hiring freeze. Gonzalez knew that if he lost out on the four teachers, he wouldn't be able to find others.
July 9, 2010
City reopens hiring for ESL, science, Latin, Chinese teachers
With eight weeks to go before the 2010-2011 school year begins, the city is letting principals hire more teachers from outside the school system. An update to the city's year-old teacher hiring freeze means that principals are now free to hire people who are licensed to teach earth science, middle school general science, English as a second language for grades 7-12, Chinese, and Latin, even if they aren't already working in the school system. There are more open positions in these areas than there are teachers whose jobs have been eliminated, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte. Principals were already permitted to look outside the city for special education, speech, and some Spanish bilingual subject teachers. New schools are also allowed to bring on new teachers for up to 40 percent of their hires. The most recent change suggests that the city might be starting to get a handle on how principals decided to staff up for the coming school year.
June 7, 2010
Revised hiring rules allow some schools to take in new teachers
Having narrowly escaped laying off more than 4,000 teachers — at least for now — Chancellor Joel Klein is permitting some principals to hire new ones. Hiring rules posted today on the Department of Education's website continue, and in some cases tighten, restrictions that have been in place since May 2009. Under the new rules, schools that opened in 2008 or later can hire up to 40 percent of their new teachers from outside the system. Last year, new schools could look outside the system for 50 percent their hires. Unlike last year, new schools are barred from hiring elementary school classroom teachers who don't already work in the system. And the exemption granted for science teachers in the past is no longer in place; only a tiny number of license areas are free of restrictions, such as special education and Spanish bilingual education. Anticipating that principals are likely to cut assistant principal positions this year to meet their slimmed down budgets, the city is also requiring that all schools hire assistant principals from the excess pool. Last year, as in previous years, principals could hire assistant principals from inside and outside the system. Prospective teachers have only until the end of the month to apply to teach. The rules posted today, which could change as the system's staffing needs become clearer, are listed below.
June 2, 2010
Klein instructs principals to cut budgets, but not teachers
The city is moving forward with Mayor Bloomberg's plan to avoid educator layoffs by freezing their salaries by writing it into school budgets for next year. Neither the teachers union nor the principals union has agreed to Bloomberg's plan, but budgets that principals are receiving today assume that the plan will become a reality. In an email to principals this morning, Klein said Bloomberg's plan would save the city $400 million and eliminate the need for teacher layoffs. But the city would still lose about 2,000 teachers through attrition, and schools will still see their budgets cut by about 4 percent, he wrote. Klein will answer principals' questions about the budgets during a webcast tomorrow morning. One question might be how exactly the city calculated its savings. In January, when the city cut the raises it had planned for teachers and principals unions in half, Klein said the city would save $148 million. It's unclear how cutting the other half of the raises could yield the city $400 million. Klein's email, which is posted below, also includes an update about the hiring freeze.
May 17, 2010
Bronx president urges no vote on teacher recruitment contract
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called on the citywide school board to postpone or vote down a contract that would pay an outside group to recruit new teachers, saying today that it "does not make any sense" with impending layoffs. The contract, which the Panel for Educational Policy will vote on at tomorrow's meeting, would pay The New Teacher Project a maximum of $4.9 million to recruit and train New York City Teaching Fellows. In a statement sent to reporters, Diaz said the money should be used to stave off layoffs rather than bring in new teachers. If Diaz's appointee votes against the contract, she'll likely be joined by panel member Patrick Sullivan, who criticized the contract in the Daily News. But Department of Education officials have said that new teachers will be needed to fill vacancies in areas like science and special education regardless of layoffs. To meet this anticipated need, the roughly 450 Teaching Fellows who will enter the job market this summer will only be certified in either of those two subjects.
April 27, 2010
New teacher pipelines narrow as hiring freeze continues
For years, the number of new teachers entering the city's job market by way of alternative certification programs has been in the thousands. But this year the flood has slowed to a trickle. When Chancellor Joel Klein announced a teacher hiring freeze last year, organizations that recruit and train new teachers, such as Teach for America and New York City's Teaching Fellows, began planning to admit fewer teacher-hopefuls. Together, those two programs are planning to take fewer than 700 applicants this year, down from over 2,000 two years ago. "We anticipate at this point that our needs will be more limited than they have been in past years, except for perhaps this year," the Department of Education's Executive Director of Recruitment and Teacher quality, Vicki Bernstein, told me in October. At the time, Bernstein, who oversees recruitment for the Teaching Fellows program, guessed that about 700 fellows would be admitted. The real number of Teaching Fellows will be closer to 450, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte. In 2009, the Teaching Fellows' cohort numbered 700, which was already a significant drop from previous years when nearly 2,000 fellows entered the city's schools annually.
March 24, 2010
Number of teachers in excess pool down sharply from the fall
Chancellor Joel Klein threw out a surprise at today's City Council hearing on next year's education budget — that the number of teachers currently in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool has now dipped to 1,092 teachers, down about 600 people since the fall. In its teachers contract demands this year, the city has asked for the power to fire teachers who remain in the excess pool for more than four months. Assuming the teachers currently in the pool have been there since the fall, if not longer, they would lose their jobs under the city's proposal.
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