New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will eliminate scheduled raises for teachers and principals for the next two years to cope with the loss of state funding for education.
The removal of planned 2 percent raises in 2011 and 2012 will help the city avoid getting rid of more than 4,400 teaching positions, Bloomberg said in an e-mailed statement.
“Laying off thousands of teachers is simply not the answer,” Bloomberg said. “It would devastate the school system and erase much of the great progress we’ve made -- and all the hard work we’ve put into turning our schools around.”
The mayor in May presented a $62.9 billion budget for the year that begins July 1 that cut 11,000 positions, or 3.6 percent of the city’s workforce, in light of a potential loss of $1.3 billion in state aid. The plan included the potential firing of 4,419 teachers and the loss of about 2,000 more through attrition.
Bloomberg said in today’s statement that he had discussed the decision to hold back the raises earlier with Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents 87,000 teachers in the city. The two agreed to go together to Albany and Washington to press for the restoration of more education funding, the mayor said.
Mulgrew didn’t immediately return a telephone message. In a statement on the union’s website, Mulgrew said the mayor “does not have the power to unilaterally decide on the teachers’ contract.”
“The mayor has the power to unilaterally rescind the proposed layoffs, and I’m glad that he has made the right decision to avoid massive disruptions to our schools,” Mulgrew said. “We have reached no agreement on his proposal to freeze teacher pay.”
Teachers’ contracts expired on Oct. 31 and the union is currently in mediation with the city with no strike deadline, said Peter Kadushin, a spokesman for the union.
In the budget proposal, teachers, principals and managers had been asked to accept a 2 percent increase on their first $70,000 in pay, instead of their previous 4 percent, which Bloomberg said would save almost $1 billion through 2013.
Budget officials predict city revenue won’t return to its 2008 record of $43.9 billion until 2012, when it will total $45 billion.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.