DOE & UFT Play with ATR Numbers

How many ATRs in the ATR Pool? Well, it depends who you ask, how you ask it, when you ask it and what your definition of an ATR is.

See below what’s supposed to be a line graph, but is instead a scatter plot to show the false numbers released in the past.


Make sure to note the difference between the reported points on this graph above an the one below. Take your time to analyze the false information between these graphs.

ATR graph

Now read the December 5, 2014 official statement from the DOE press office regarding ATR numbers and then see our analysis below.

——————————–We colored certain key words in RED.———-

From: Kaye Devora <>
Date: Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Subject: Update re: ATRs
To: Kaye Devora <>
Education Reporters,
I want to update you on the status of the DOE’s ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool. As of the first day teachers reported back to school this year, there were 1,676 teachers in the ATR pool compared to 1,957 a year earlier. This means there were 281 fewer teachers than at the start of the 2013 – 2014 school year. The UFT contract included a buyout option for employees in the ATR pool, leading to the exit of 115 employees, including 97 teachers, bringing substantial cost savings for the DOE, and helping to make the ATR pool smaller this September than the prior one. Historically, the ATR pool is at its highest point in the fall, as it includes both prior year ATRs and new excesses. There is no ATR pool over the summer; a new one is established each year when the school year commences.
Below is a breakdown of ATRs compared to the previous year both at the start of this school year as well as in the beginning of December:
FDOS 2013 FDOS 2014 12/4/13 12/3/14
ATR Teachers 1,957 1,676 1,397 1,171
ATR Other 366 336 281 249
Total 2,323 2,012 1,678 1,420
Note: FDOS is first day of school and ‘ATR Other’ includes other UFT members, inclusive of school secretaries, guidance counselors, school psychologists, attendance teachers and social workers.
With the school year underway, the numbers continue to decline. There has been a 30% decrease in the number of teachers in the ATR pool since the school year began. As of December 3, 2014 there were 1,171 ATR teachers, 505 individuals less compared to the first day of school. The provisions implemented to help reduce the size of the ATR pool were as follows:
*Starting the week of September 15, ATRs have been sent on mandatory interviews at locations in their borough where there are vacancies in their subject. This represents a change from past years when ATRs could only be sent to interviews at schools located in their local Community School District.
*If a teacher from the ATR pool fails to appear at interviews, or fails to accept a teaching position he or she is offered, the teacher will be deemed to have resigned from the school system.
*If an ATR employee is tried out in a vacant position and engages in documented problematic behavior two or more times, he or she is subject to discipline and discharge through an expedited 3020(a) procedure.
You can use this quote attributable to Chancellor Fariña:
“Building the best urban school district in the country starts with world class teachers. Through the teacher’s contract we have been able to keep more of our best teachers in the classroom while reducing the number of teachers in the ATR pool compared to the same time last year. We will continue to work to ensure that every student has a great teacher at the front of each classroom, while we reduce the ATR pool and costs for the City’s taxpayers.”
Devora Kaye
Press Secretary, NYC Department of Education


First, know that these numbers released above are much, much higher than numbers officially released by the DOE and UFT in the past. Perhaps the total numbers now are less than before, if even true, but all education reporters have been using numbers around 1,100 and 1,200 this past August and September as compared to the 2,012 number shown above. That is almost 1,000 member difference. The UFT leadership has even recently told some members the totals are around 400. Why the lack in transparency?

See NY Post August 2014: “The city is trying to reduce a stockpile of 1,131 outcast teachers on the payroll without permanent jobs — first by offering buyouts, then assigning them to school vacancies.”

See NY Daily News August 2014: “Earlier this month 114 of the roughly 1,100 teachers — known as the Absent Teacher Reserve — accepted $16,000 buyouts.”

Here are a few things that everyone needs to keep in mind when looking at real ATR numbers.

1) ATRs are not just classroom teachers. The trick the UFT and the DOE are playing with is the number of guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, secretaries and attendance teachers that they were excluding  from the totals. ATR is not even a proper acronym to use. For the first time they seem to be somewhat mentioning those non classroom teacher numbers.

2) The second trick is that they are excluding the number of these “ATRs” that are “provisionally placed.” Meaning that the data shared by the DOE today does not include the members placed for 3 months, 6 months or a year on a temporary basis. Those teachers will most likely be back in the pool and should be factored in. Notice the email from the press secretary states there has been a 30% decrease in ATRs since September with no reason why? See evidence of this provisional exclusion in the Freedom of Information Law response below.

3) A survey taken of about 60 ATRs found that most have 18 years experience, are over 40 and those 60 ATRs applied to over 900 positions while receiving only 24 requests for an interview. Stats can be found here at

4) Fair Student Funding is a big problem and obstacle to resolving the ATR Pool situation. Even if an ATR does not cost a principal money the first year, they will the next.

5) The adverse effect on students due to temporary placement of ATR pool members is insurmountable. Imagine how the temporary services of school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors who come and go have on students who need long term assistance.

These are tricks and play on words that have been used for some time.

Going a little further back in history this article from the UFT NY Treacher (“Number of ATRs drops to 831”) in April 2011 to 831 in April 2012. However, according to DOE Communication Manager Connie Pankratz, the numbers had almost doubled by December 2012 of the same year. In response to a request dated December 17, 2012, she stated “…there are currently 1475 teachers in the ATR pool.”

That same article quotes the former UFT Secretary: “We are happy to see that this part of the ATR agreement has resulted in record numbers of teachers in the ATR pool finding full-time positions and in more continuity in the classroom for New York City’s students,” said UFT Secretary Michael Mendel.

In fact a internet search of past numbers always showed less than what the DOE is releasing today.

Such as this March 2010 article FEWER THAN 1,000 TEACHERS NOW IN EXCESS POOL, KLEIN SAYS by

Even as recent as December 2, 2014, Epoch Times reported 1,100 ATRs


So why the sudden release of new higher numbers?


Well, we think it is because of the following FOIL request from ATR Alliance member and Staten Island rep, Francesco Portelos that requested numbers inclusive of non-classroom teachers.


From: Francesco Portelos <>
Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 6:22 AM
Subject: FOIL ATR
To:, FOIL <>, Atrassignment <>,

Dear Mr. Baranello,

Pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law, please send me copies by Email of the following records:

1. The number of New York City Department of Education employees that are part of the Absent Teacher Reserve, including the the employees that are secretarial,  guidance counselors,  school psychologists,  and assigned on a provisional basis at schools as of September 10, 2014.

This information can be found by contacting,

I would appreciate a response within five business days of receipt as required by law.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Francesco Portelos


The response was finally released earlier this week and was circulated around edublogs and news sources.


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  1. Terrific research. Outrageous on so many levels.

  2. Claire Scesney Lundahl

    Please send me research about ATRS in the Bronx

  3. My ATR Supervisor, Katherine Marra.

    KM came to my new school on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. She wanted to present me with ANOTHER U. I asked her to give me a few minutes (I had 3 periods in a row) and she continued talking (politely said). I reminded her that I needed a few minutes so she started walking with me asking where are you going? “I know you are going to tape record me”, she said, “and I do not want you to.” I told her that I was going to the ladies room. She said, “I am coming.” To the ladies room? And continued her blabs with I do not want you to tape record me and I will not allow it. This supervisor lacks manners; she is rude; and her language towards me in very unpleasant. I wanted to speak to the UFT Chapter Leader as I was told at my previous location, when they heard her talk to me in that manner, that I could request UFT CL. Unfortunately, he was not in on Tuesday. So I had to meet KM by myself. Of course, everything I did in the lesson I taught was negative to her and within the 10 minutes she stayed with me (I did not want to be with her any longer) she kept on reading a line or two from her observation report and interjecting, “I do not want you to tape record me and I will continue saying that.” And she did. I started recording what she was saying and noted she said that 15 times! Is is all right? Does she have mental issues? Is she racist? Does she feel inferior and unsecured? I have so many questions. She yet has to return my students’ papers and exit slips from the first observation. How am I supposed to grow professional with an incompetent supervisor? Also, I had formally requested for a specific lesson pre-ob which she has never given. I’d love to see comments from other teachers who have KM.

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