Press releases

UFT and DOE reach agreement on ATRs

For immediate release

New measures create financial incentives to hire ATRs

UFT President Randi Weingarten and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein on Nov. 18 finalized an agreement designed to improve the placement processes and procedures for teachers and other UFT personnel in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR). Teachers whose positions have been eliminated — for example, when a school closes — and who are not able to find regular positions are placed in the ATR pool and work as full-time substitutes. The agreement, which was approved unanimously by the UFT Executive Board on Nov. 18, creates substantial financial incentives for schools to hire teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and attendance teachers from the ATR pool. In addition, Chancellor Klein will urge principals to fill vacancies with personnel from the ATR pool before considering other candidates. This agreement does not call for the forced placement of any personnel.

[Read the Memorandum of Agreement]

“This is a terrific agreement,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “These experienced and qualified people have essentially seen their careers put in a holding pattern due to student enrollment patterns or the closing of schools. They have been struggling to find permanent jobs in large part because schools have been opting for less experienced personnel at lower salaries. By eliminating the financial obstacles, we should see more ATRs being permanently placed, which will be good for children and save the school district money. This is an agreement worth trying, particularly with these troubling economic times.”

“Today’s agreement with the UFT creates incentives that encourage principals to voluntarily hire qualified teachers in the ATR pool to fill school vacancies, thereby reducing the cost to the City of maintaining excessed teachers on the payroll,” Chancellor Klein said. “This agreement is part of our very serious effort to minimize cuts to schools and classrooms during these hard economic times. At worst, if no additional teachers are hired from the ATR pool, it’s cost neutral. At best, if principals find qualified teachers in the ATR pool to fill vacancies in their schools, it could save us millions of dollars. And, importantly, it preserves principals’ right to choose the teachers in their schools. While we continue to believe that teachers in the ATR pool should not be permitted to stay on the payroll indefinitely, this agreement represents a needed step forward.”

Under the terms of the agreement, schools that hire one of the educators in the ATR pool after November 1 of each calendar year will receive two subsidies. The Department of Education (DOE) will pay the difference between the ATR’s actual salary and the salary of a starting teacher, and then, in subsequent years, will continue to pay the difference between the actual salary and the subsequent steps on the salary scale. This subsidy will terminate once the excessed employee has been in the position for eight years. The DOE will also give schools that hire an ATR an additional lump sum equal to half of a new hire’s salary.

Principals who are willing to hire ATRs but not permanently place them can instead hire ATRs on a provisional basis. In those cases, schools will pay the educators’ actual salaries. If a principal and ATR decide the ATR should be placed permanently, the school will receive the subsidies. If the ATR is not permanently placed, the ATR will return to the ATR pool at the end of the school year.

After one year, the DOE and UFT will evaluate whether this agreement is benefiting schools.

“I am pleased that the DOE and the UFT were able to work together and find common ground on this critical issue of reducing the number of unplaced excessed teachers,” Chancellor Klein said. “I expect principals will actively and in good faith first consider qualified candidates in the ATR pool when filling open positions.”

“I want to thank the ATRs who have continued to press this issue and all of the teachers who took part in the ‘Let Us Teach’ campaign,” said Weingarten. “By using the ATR pool to fill vacancies, millions of dollars can be saved and thousands of kids get the benefit of these great educators. This is a solution that works for everyone.”

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