Yonkers superintendent Bernard Pierorazio said today the district stands to lose $17 million in funding if the administration and teachers union can’t reach an agreement on implementing a new teacher evaluation system.
In a letter to district “stakeholders” – parents, staff and taxpayers – Pierorazio said the district has until Jan. 17 to reach an agreement with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers on implementing a new Annual Professional Performance Review. The funding cuts would occur in the current and result in “devastating” mid-year layoffs of hundreds, including administrators, teachers and civil service employees.
APPR plans are controversial because they include provision to evaluate teachers in part on student test scores. Pierorazio said the district has already lost $1.7 million in funding because it doesn’t yet have an approved APPR plan.
The letter apparently took shots at what Pierorazio called “misinformation” that “has been distributed by others,” noting an APPR plan can be negotiated and approved separately from a union contract. Continue on to read the full letter.
Dear Stakeholder of the Yonkers Public Schools:
Misinformation has been distributed by others; therefore, it is my responsibility to ensure that facts are provided. You have likely heard news reports or received communication regarding the new teacher evaluation system, or Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), required by law.
It is imperative to understand that without APPR in place by January 17, the Yonkers Public Schools will lose $17 million in funding for the current school year. This will translate to devastating mid-year cuts of hundreds of staff members, including administrators, teachers and civil service employees. Hardest hit will be our students.
FACT: On Monday, November 19, during a joint APPR meeting, I requested full-day meetings with YFT representatives to finalize an APPR and these meetings are taking place. The simple fact is that the APPR must be resolved immediately so that the District is not forced to lay-off staff members and close programs in January.
FACT: Since January 2012, there have been 26 APPR meetings held and the BOE presented the YFT with numerous proposals in an effort to develop a template for APPR that meets the mandate of the New York State Education Department and is fair and equitable to certificated employees. Additionally, the BOE and YFT have held nine contract negotiation meetings over the past twelve months.
FACT: On Friday, November 30, the Board of Education (BOE) was not presented with any proposals for an APPR agreement; only contract items by the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT) were submitted.
FACT: On Monday, December 3, I spoke by phone and briefly met with the YFT president, indicating that my team was reviewing the contract items provided. A proper analysis to calculate what union requests would cost the District took time. On Thursday, December 6, I emailed the YFT president the District’s response to the YFT’s proposal and additional requests by the BOE.
As an aside, on Tuesday, December 4, I spent the entire day in Albany meeting with legislators and the governor’s staff to find solutions for a projected $50-plus million deficit facing the District next year.
FACT: The District and the YFT will continue to meet in good faith regarding the APPR and employee contract, but the first priority must be reaching an APPR agreement. If this does not take place before January 17, mid-year layoffs will occur.
FACT: Although APPR will become part of the new teachers’ contract, the two agreements do not need to be settled simultaneously. The BOE commits to continuing our negotiations to reach fair contracts for all unions; however, with $17 million at stake and a January deadline, APPR must be addressed now.
The District has already lost $1.7 million in funding due to lack of APPR. We cannot risk any more of the resources so vital to our students.
Bernard P. Pierorazio