City pays $81M in full-time perks to substitutes

THE BRONX - The city is paying a whopping $81 million in full-time salaries and benefits to a group of laid off teachers, according to a nonprofit group.

The New Teacher Project, which recruits and trains educators, says more than 600 teachers have been placed in its reserve pool since 2006 after the educators failed to find another job.

The reserve pool was a trade off in 2006 contract talks between the United Federation of Teachers union and the Department of Education. Both sides agreed to end seniority rights as well as the automatic transfer of teachers who had been laid off due to shrinking enrollment. At that time, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said he would rather absorb the cost of the teachers in the pool than saddle principals with teachers they didn't want.

According to the New Teacher Project, principals are now allowed to hire educators from the pool as they are needed. However, the nonprofit is urging both sides to address the costly issue of the city paying big bucks to substitutes who are not actively seeking a full-time job.

UFT President Randi Weingarten calls the claim a "blame the victim" strategy. Weingarten believes teachers lost their jobs through no fault of their own and shouldn't be held accountable.

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