Hundreds Of NYC School Workers Laid Off To Close DOE Budget Gap

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — More than 700 Department of Education employees were given pink slips two weeks ago in an effort to close a huge budget gap and when the dismissal bell rings today, those hundreds of New York City teacher aids and support staff will officially be out of a job.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

This is the largest number of layoffs at one time in New York City since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office nearly 10 years ago.

Union members packed the steps of City Hall protesting the layoffs, chanting “Get Some Guts, Stop The Cuts!”

Congresswoman Nidia Velazquez said she wants answers from City Hall. “Why is it that we target low-income, under served communities,” she said. “Shame on them.”

District 35 New York City councilwoman Letitia James blames the mayor for the layoffs. “I am not going to turn back on these individuals who are they working class of this city and this country,” she said.

“My heart goes out to these workers but I also have a responsibility to make sure we have a balanced budget at the DOE,” City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “We knew that we had to make cuts and unfortunately, these approximately 700 workers are the result of that.”

Among those laid off workers is Cristonia Johnson, a 13-year veteran of the DOE and an outreach specialist. “To work for the city for a whole of 20 years and to be put out on the street like this, I am extremely angry,” she said.

DOE officials say the cuts will save $35 million. But teacher unions are protesting the layoffs, saying they unfairly affect minorities and the city’s poorest schools.

“700 plus members will no longer be employed,” said Santos Crespo of DC 37 Local 372. “The unemployment rolls will now have an addition.”

As hundreds of local teachers lose their jobs, nationwide, the unemployment rate isn’t budging.

While the economy added more than 100,000 new jobs in September, new figures out today show the unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

The Labor Department also revised the previous two months to show that companies hired at a better pace than first estimated.

Nearly half of the gains last month occurred because 45,000 striking Verizon workers returned to their jobs.

Employers have added an average of only 72,000 jobs in the past five months. The economy must create twice as many just to keep up with population growth.

Still, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress earlier this week that the economic recovery was “close to faltering,” with slow job growth dragging down consumer confidence.

Bernanke, speaking in unusually blunt terms, said he could not blame Americans for being frustrated at the financial industry “for getting us into this mess” and at Washington for not coming up with a strong response.

The faltering economy has led many employers to reduce hiring. In the first half of this year, the economy grew at the slowest pace since the recession ended in June 2009.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • p8nt

    Here’s an out-of-the-box idea.. FREEZE THE WAGES OF EVERYONE IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM from Teachers to Administrators!! That will help balance the budget. Though, the school system is bloated with useless positions, and red tape. Cut the red tape, make the system more efficient, and NO MORE TENURE!!

  • Danilo

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  • jerseygma

    “Among those laid off workers is Cliftonia Johnson, a 13-year veteran of the DOE and an outreach specialist. “To work for the city for a whole of 20 years and to be put out on the street like this, I am extremely angry,” she said.”

    Instead of angry, she should get tough, because when the going gets tough, the tough get going. What about private tutoring or consulting for home schoolers?

    The point is, when did people start having the idea that in America they are guaranteed a job? America is the land of opportunity, not of guaranteed results. Too many people depend on one government entity or another for their livelihood; government has become bloated. Now the bubble is bursting, and folks are confounded.

    When I was in school in the 1950’s and1960s, we had a principal, a secretary,a guidance counselor, and teachers. Now the schools my grandchildren attend have, in addition, at least one assistant principal, a curriculum coordinator (?), a social worker, an attendance monitor, multiple guidance counselors, and multiple secretaries. The funny thing is, you can almost never reach anyone by phone; you have to leave a message which often gets no response.

    Of course, too many teaching positions are being cut rather than the excess administrative positions. Go figure.

  • Jimmy

    Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

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