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Queens Chronicle

Cuomo may control city teacher evaluations plan

Still no agreement between city, UFT

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:37 am, Thu Feb 28, 2013.

Fed up with the ongoing stalemate between the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers, Gov. Cuomo is expected to offer legislation that will give him the authority to force a plan on the city without the two sides coming to an agreement.

Cuomo’s office would not comment on the legislation Wednesday, but published reports say that the governor will propose his administration implement a new teacher evaluations system on city schools. A DOE spokesmsn said the city has not seen any bill from Albany.

In a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott earlier this month, Cuomo’s education commissioner, John King, had warned that the governor may consider stepping in if no deal was reached. King offered a deadline of Feb. 15 for an accord in order to qualify for $200 million in grant money, but the two sides are still far apart on a plan.

The original deadline of Jan. 17 was not met and Cuomo kept his word on withholding $250 million in state aid, despite pleas from Mayor Bloomberg for an extension.

The mayor and the UFT failed to reach an agreement on two aspects of a teacher evaluations plan: a sunset clause of two years and the amount of arbitration a fired teacher is entitled to. Although every other school district in the state that met the Jan. 17 deadline included a sunset clause in its deal, Bloomberg opposes one, arguing it would render a plan useless because it could take years to remove a teacher.

A plan must be implemented by Sept. 17, but some worry that if negotiations go on any longer, it would be impossible for the DOE to put a plan in place by then. In a statement, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the union would support state intervention as a last resort.

“The UFT would prefer a negotiated settlement with the Department of Education, but rather than seeing the schools suffer any more loss of state funding, we are supportive of the state imposing one if an agreement cannot be reached before the September deadline,” he said.

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