School administrators have placed 41 teachers in permanent classroom jobs under a controversial plan to return hundreds of unassigned educators to lasting roles, city officials said Thursday.
That’s just a fraction of up to 400 floating teachers that officials said they’d place into vacancies at public schools when the plan was announced in July.
But Education Department officials said the city is still on track to reach its goal of reducing the pool — known as the Absent Teacher Reserve — by half, by June 2019.
“With our common-sense reforms to the ATR pool, we’re making better use of this resource to meet the needs of schools,” said Randy Asher, the department’s senior adviser for talent management and innovation.
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“We’ll continue working with our school leaders and ATR teachers to supervise and support ATR teachers and we’ll address any matches that aren’t working,” Asher added.
Tenured teachers and other school staffers may be assigned to the reserve pool under circumstances that include a downsized school.
But city statistics also show about one in three teachers in the pool landed there after they had legal or disciplinary problems. The unassigned educators also had relatively bad job ratings, according to city data.
The floaters fill in for a teacher who takes family leave or goes on sabbatical. If a teacher is out for a day with the flu, however, a principal will hire a sub.
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The city has sought to reduce the reserve pool for years with buyouts worth up to $50,000.
On the first day of school this year, there were 1,202 teachers in the pool. That’s down from 1,494 last year, when the city spent $150 million on salaries and benefits for ATR educators.
Critics said the operation’s slow start is proof that the effort is struggling.
“The city’s experiment with force-placing teachers has failed because it’s just bad policy,” said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of the education reform group StudentsFirstNY.
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