The state’s major city school districts outside New York City have been lobbying to be part of the Senate Republicans’ bill to strip seniority in determining teacher layoffs, but it doesn’t appear they are going to be successful in the immediate bill.
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, said New York City has been the leader on the issue and his bill — which passed the Senate Education Committee and could be voted on later today — is tailored only to them. But he left the door open for the other Big 5 schools — Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Yonkers — to be considered in separate legislation down the road.
“I think right now the focus will and probably should be on the city of New York,” Flanagan said yesterday. “They’ve laid out a plan in much more detail than the other big school districts have. And I don’t want to intimate in any way that the other groups have been irresponsible. They certainly have said and have voiced their opinion that they want to see something in this area, but we need to have a lot more discussions with them.”
Of course, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a major campaign contributor to Senate Republicans and contributed $1 million last year to help the GOP regain the majority in the Senate. Some upstate Republicans today voted yes on the bill in committee without recommendation (a lukewarm vote of confidence), including Sens. Joseph Robach and George Maziarz, who both represents parts of Rochester.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said stripping the “last in, first out” policy for the Big 4 schools is a debate for another day. “Right now we should just look at the bill before us and let’s see how that goes and then make some decisions down the road,” he said.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said while he supports changing rules based only on seniority, he hasn’t reviewed the Senate bill and cast doubt on it passing the Assembly. He sounded more in line with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on the issue.
“I think we will take up a bill that deals with an objective evaluation system that gives people the ability to then make determinations that are not purely last in, first out,” Silver said.