Sunday, October 25, 2015
Fair Student Funding And The ATRs.
During the October information meetings the UFT leadership would repeat time and again that the Fair Student Funding (fsf) was not responsible for the failure of principals to pick up ATRs since the ATRs are picked up by the school for the average teacher salary in the first year and for free the second year, if they are appointed! If that was all this was to it, principals would be fighting to hire the ATR but of course they are not. However, there is more to the hiring process than the union leadership was willing to disclose at the meetings and deliberately failed to explain or address this to the members.
First, the present ATR agreement is only valid till 2018. In fact, if either the DOE or UFT wants to change or discontinue the present ATR agreement, next school year (2016-17), it reverts back to the 2007 contract which forces schools to include the appointed ATR's salary in their average school payroll, which is subject to the fsf.
Second, the ATR agreement will have to be renegotiated in 2018 and depending on the political situation, will determine how the ATR agreement will change. That could mean that the principals who were assured by the DOE and UFT that any ATR they appointed would not cost them more than the average teacher salary could find themselves responsible for the entire ATR salary going forward. If you ask principals if they trust the DOE to keep their side of the bargain, almost universally they will tell you no! They remember when the DOE tried to take money principals saved for the next year after assuring them that they had no intention to take a principal's savings. Until and unless the fsf is eliminated and the unit system is reinstalled, no Principal will be willing to appoint a high salaried ATR for fear that the DOE will renege on the ATR budget agreement and be left holding the bag under fsf.
Third, the seniority issue is still a major problem and principals don't want to put their staff at risk for excessing if they appoint a more experienced ATR. Even the 2009 agreement that allowed principals to pick up ATRs at a "newbie" teacher salary (1A) and DOE Central picking up the difference for the next eight years until 8b, only put a small dent in the ATR pool due to the seniority issue. Therefore, the DOE and UFT should do what they did in the 90's. As James Eterno explained to me that to encourage principals to pick up a highly experienced excessed teacher, they gave the school an extra teaching position in that subject area so that the school can protect their least senior staff member if future excessing is required. Since the DOE is paying for the ATR's salary anyway, this would be a win-win situation since the school gets a highly experienced teacher and would allow the principal to expand the course selection, including more Advanced Placement courses that Chancellor Carmen Farina claims she wants for the New York City Schools, However, this violates the fsf and the ideological DOE has no intention of changing it.
Finally, by placing the ATRs back into the classroom, it will go a long way in reducing class size, supplying schools with experienced teachers, and provide additional course selection for the students. However, until the fsf is replaced and the DOE agrees to ensure that the appointment of the ATR will not threaten their most junior staff member in that subject area, nothing will change and that is what the union leadership has failed to address.
Now you know the real story about the ATRs and fsf.