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Mayor Bloomberg's School Closings Blocked by Arbitrator

Susan Notes:

One has to rejoice whenever Mayor Bloomberg's plans get blocked. We have to wait for the arbitrator's opinion, but basically the Bloomberg plan, which is an attempt to capitalize on the Duncan plan, is to call a school "new" if it dumps half the teachers. Nothing changes about student poverty.

Press Release, UFT

DOE "closures" of 24 schools violate union contracts, says arbitrator
June 29, 2012

The Dep" 24 schools and immediately re-open them under new names. An independent arbitrator has found that, for purposes of our contracts, the "new" schools that the DOE claims it is creating this way are in reality not new schools.

As such, the DOE's attempts to remove half the personnel in these schools are a violation of the school district's contracts with the unions.

Based on this decision, the current staff in these schools has the opportunity to remain there for the next school year, though those who have found new positions elsewhere are free to go to those new jobs if they choose.

This decision is focused on the narrow issue of whether or not the mayor's "new" schools are really new. The larger issue, however, is that the centerpiece of the DOE's school improvement strategy -- closing struggling schools -- does not work. Parents, students and teachers need the DOE to come up with strategies to fix struggling schools rather than giving up on them.

School Closings Blocked by Arbitrator

Wall Street Journal
June 29, 2012

By Lisa Fleisher

An arbitrator has blocked New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close 24 low-performing public schools and reopen them with half of their original staff.

The ruling issued Friday was a big blow to the mayor, who announced the school closings in his State of the City speech in January after a dispute with the teachers union over new teacher evaluations. He had been trying take advantage of a federal program that pays for efforts to improve schools.

The city said it would appeal to state Supreme Court.

The city claimed it had the authority in its contract with the teachers and principals unions to close the schools and only re-hire half the staff, sending the remaining teachers into a pool of substitutes that rotates throughout the school system.

But the union argued that the closings were a "sham" because little more than the name of the schools would change. The same students would return to the same location in school year following the closings, in some cases with the same principal in charge.

The arbitrator's opinion explaining the decision hasn't yet been issued.

In a joint statement, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the decision an "injustice to our children" that would “hurt thousands of students and compromise their futures.”

The state Education Department last week said the $58 million in federal funding would be yanked if the arbitrator ruled against the city. But on Friday a spokesman said the approval of the funding hangs on whether the city can replace half the staff in a school.

The city is well into the process of restaffing the 24 schools. Earlier this month, it gave notice to more than 3,600 people -- teachers and administrators -- that they had to re-apply for their jobs if they want a permanent position on staff.

As of a few weeks ago, about 7,000 people had submitted at least one application for slots at the new schools, including roughly 2,600 of the 2,995 teachers who expected to lose their jobs.

The city said it would wait to read the arbitrator's opinion before deciding whether to continue that process or tell schools to revert to their previous staffs.

Bloomberg has closed more than 100 schools as part of his strategy to overhaul the school system — and opened many more, bringing the total number of schools in the city to more than 1,750.

Names of Schools That Had Faced Closure:

High School of Graphic Communication Arts
Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School
Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School
Herbert H. Lehman High School
Banana Kelly High School
J.H.S. 022 Jordan L. Mott
I.S. 339
Bronx High School of Business
J.H.S. 080 The Mosholu Parkway
The Angelo Patri Middle School
Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology
MS 142 John Philip Sousa
John Ericsson Middle School 126
Automotive High School
J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin
John Dewey High School
Sheepshead Bay High School
Newtown High School
Flushing High School
August Martin High School
Richmond Hill High School
John Adams High School
William Cullen Bryant High School
Long Island City High School

— United Federation of Teachers & Lisa Fleisher
Press Release & Wall Street Journal


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