Chalk it up! Bloomberg would lay off more than 1,000 Bklyn teachers

Compu-served! City will replace PS 107’s stolen computers
The Brooklyn Paper / Bess Adler

Mayor Bloomberg is not hot for Brooklyn teachers.

The city’s doomsday budget scenario calls for 1,117 out of 19,007 teachers to be laid off — and Brooklyn accounts for close to 24 percent of the 4,675 proposed layoffs citywide.

And some schools would lose half of their teachers — the result, the mayor says, of a state school aid cut of $1.4 billion.

Principals took the proposed cuts personally.

“It [would be] very difficult to see them go,” said Cynthia Holton, principal at PS 107 on Eighth Avenue in Park Slope, which would lose six out of its 35 teachers, or 17 percent, under the mayor’s plan. “Not only do you feel personally committed to them, but layoffs will hurt the school system. We don’t want to increase class size.”

The city published a map over the weekend detailing the layoffs at each affected school in hopes that parents would join the fight to pressure state officials to change the “arbitrary standard” that makes it more difficult to fire teachers with seniority.

The state Senate made the change on Tuesday, but Assembly leaders said they would not take up the bill.

Because seniority rules remains in place, city officials said, the proposed cuts would disproportionately affect newer schools or buildings in high poverty areas, where teacher retention can be a challenge.

And the cuts will be deep at some schools, including the Brighter Choice Community School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which would lose five of its eight teachers, or 63 percent of the total; and the Khalil Gibran International Academy — an Arabic culture school the city created — in Fort Greene that would lose 44 percent of its staff, or four of its nine teachers. School officials there refused to comment.

The threat of layoffs bedeviled parents and educators.

“Anything that creates layoffs is a bad thing,” said Jim Devor, a parent of a student at Middle School 51 on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, which would only lose one teacher out of 60. “But it is unnecessary. There are other ways to balance a budget.”

Retired teacher Lewis Friedman agreed.

Friedman, who taught in Williamsburg and Parks Slope for 29 years, said he remembers the budget crisis of the 1970s, “when classes were so crowded kids had to sit on radiators.”

“It will be devastating for the school system,” he said. “They are destroying the school system at the expense of workers — they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.”

The city noted that the layoffs may never happen, and it is likely that new teachers would be hired at the schools, as the numbers do not reflect the number of teaching positions that would be eliminated, officials noted.

But parents said they were weary of the political gamesmanship.

“I’m concerned about the mayor’s propaganda that the newest teachers are the most enthusiastic teachers,” said Gloria Mattera, a political activist and parent at PS 321 on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, which would lose eight of its 85 teachers, or nine percent. “It’s just a plot to diminish the collective bargaining power of unions, and it is a complete power grab. Any number of layoffs is too many to bear.”