When then UFT President Randi Weingarten shocked the membership and other City unions and agreed to Chancellor's Joel Klein's proposal to not place teachers who were excessed due to closing schools into vacant positions in their district, they created the infamous ATR pool. The ATR pool consists of teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals, with most of them being teachers.
The ATR pool of teachers range from a maximum of 2,600 at the beginning of the school year, to 1,000 near the end. Does that mean the 1,600 excessed teachers received an appointed position? The answer is an emphatic no! Most of the 1,600 ATRs are either provisionally appointed for the year or on a long-term leave replacement assignment. Almost all of those teachers will be back into the ATR pool at the end of the school year. Unlike the CSA (administrators) and DC37 (secretaries), the UFT members, except for paras, are rotated throughout the year.
The union negotiated a two year ATR agreement that ends in the 2015-16 school year and must be renegotiated for the 2016-17 school year and beyond, otherwise, it reverts back to the 2007 ATR Agreement. How has it worked? In my opinion, terribly! Few ATRs have landed permanent positions and the ATR pool is as large as ever. The union had touted that if a school picked up an ATR for the second year, the ATR was free for the school. Then why don't principals take the DOE up on their generous offer? The answer was that there are strings attached.
First, let's look at the two year ATR agreement the union negotiated with the DOE. without any input from the people affected, the ATRs. The union agreed to the DOE's demands that ATRs must go to mandatory interviews in their Borough (not Districts) and missing two would result in termination. That ATRs have no right to refuse an assignment or position and if they don't show up by the second day, they are terminated. If two consecutive principals or in consecutive years, find the ATR's behavior not to their liking, the ATR will be subject to a termination hearing. In other words, the union agreed to reduced "due process rights" for ATRs. Oh, did I forget about the one day 3020-a hearing for the ill-defined problematic behavior? How about the ridiculous "flyby observations" by the DOE field
Despite, all the restrictions the union and the DOE imposed on the ATRs, the union made a point to tell the ATRs in their October meeting that the ATR Agreement will help get them positions as principals will employ them for the school's average teacher salary the first year, with the DOE paying the rest and for free the second year. What a great deal! Except, they didn't tell the ATRs the fine print attached to the ATR Agreement.
You see the free second year comes with a major string attached. The free second year comes with the permanent appointment of the ATR to the school and that means the ATR's seniority will be taken into account if the school does any future excessing. That's right. Once the Principal picks up the ATR for the second year, they are permanently appointed, with full seniority rights. Therefore, few principals are willing to take a chance, unless they get a special waiver from DOE Central to keep the ATR a second year without permanently appointing the ATR.
Finally, many principals have told me that they would have to pick up the ATRs full salary in the third year and beyond and because of the DOE's "fair student funding" they do not have the budget to pick up the salaries, especially when the DOE froze the budget in the last two school years and the upcoming year as well.
If the union really wants to "do the right thing", they must demand that the DOE either eliminate the "fair student funding" and return to units for staff or at least, get the DOE to agree doing what they did for one year starting in November of 2008 by subsidizing the schools for appointing ATRs to their schools. No other option is acceptable. The union must not agree to continue the present agreement as it does not work and is detrimental to the ATRs. At least the 2007 ATR Agreement did not have rotation and the ATR was part of the assigned school culture for the school year and they weren't subject to a field supervisor's "flyby observations".
For the ATRs, look for another year in Purgatory as we rotate monthly, weekly, or forced placed against our will for the 2015-16 school year.