The Bloomberg administration is saying it has not reached a decision on how to proceed in the wake of a report recommending the city remove from its payroll teachers who do not hold actual jobs.
The report, released by a nonprofit, the New Teacher Project, found that a provision in the 2005 teachers contract has had the effect of creating a group of more than 600 teachers who are on the city payroll but do not hold actual jobs in the school system. The unplaced-but-paid teachers, known as the Absent Teacher Reserve, will cost the city $81 million by the end of this school year, the report said.
On the eve of the report's release Monday, the Department of Education's director of labor policy, Daniel Weisberg, said he wanted to seek an agreement with the teachers union that would allow the city to follow the New Teacher Project's recommendation and remove such teachers from the city payroll if they remained unemployed for 12 months.
In the past, the city and the teachers union have reached so-called midcontract agreements, a method to make changes to the way teachers are paid and treated without opening up the full contract for collective bargaining.
Mr. Weisberg indicated this is the path the Department of Education aims to follow to address the Absent Teacher Reserve issue.
"Whether we open a new contract negotiation generally, that's up to the mayor and Jim Hanley, the mayor's labor commissioner," Mr. Weisberg said. "What I'm talking about is whether we negotiate over this particular issue."
He added: "Our hope is that the next step is that the parties would sit down and try to come to a resolution."
The mayor's office ó which has final authority over any negotiation, even outside the collective-bargaining framework ó is saying that, while it also supports the conclusions of the New Teacher Project report, it will not go as far as to endorse a next step.
"The New Teacher Project issued a report, the conclusion of which the city agrees with," a spokesman for the mayor, Jason Post, said. "No decision has been made about the implementation of any recommendations."
Mr. Post did name one possible way the city could implement the report's conclusions: The city could make an agreement outside the regular contract, of the sort Mr. Weisberg suggested.
Mr. Post said a final decision has not yet been made on whether to take that step.
At a press availability yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg said the growing number of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve is a problem that he expects will only worsen in the future, following new state legislation banning the use of test scores in decisions about whether to grant tenure.
"If you think this is a problem today, based on the action of the Legislature and legislation signed by the governor, the number of teachers who will be in this kind of a situation will probably grow dramatically, because the Legislature in their infinite wisdom passed a law saying we couldn't look at teacher competency to decide whether to give them tenure," Mr. Bloomberg said.