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N.Y.C. Teachers To Forfeit Wages To Avert Layoffs

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Public-school teachers in New York City have tentatively agreed to forfeit slightly less than a week's wages to avert massive layoffs.

The 106,000-member United Federation of Teachers was scheduled to vote late last week on an accord struck by union leaders that would cut annual salaries 1 percent to 1.5 percent. Under the agreement, teachers and paraprofessionals would be reimbursed for the cuts in 1995 and 1996.

The wage deferral will save the beleaguered school system an estimated $40 million. That savings, plus a $60-million advance in state aid that had been earmarked for the coming academic year, will enable the district to meet the latest $90-million budget reduction ordered by the city.

Since last spring, the city has ordered three rounds of education cuts, totaling $270 million.

James Vlasto, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez, called the compact "probably one of the most successful budget-saving devices that has been created in New York in decades without disrupting the schools."

School and union officials alike hoped to avoid a replay of the 1970's, when layoffs triggered disruptions throughout the schools as teachers bumped one another on the basis of seniority.

Before the agreement was struck, some 3,500 teachers had been notified they were facing layoffs, scheduled to take effect Feb. 1.

In return for the pay concession, school officials promised there would be no additional layoffs this year, according to the u.f.t.

To prevent future layoffs of teachers, the school board has agreed to such steps as seeking administrative reductions and offering a one-shot early-retirement deal next September. The latter requires legislative approval.

These measures are expected to help offset anticipated shortfalls in next year's budget.

"They wouldn't help immediately," Susan Amlung, a spokesman for the u.f.t., said.

Mr. Vlasto said the $60-million advance and the pay deferral give the district breathing room to address budgetary problems. "We'll be able to plan for the delayed cuts and the future cuts if they come," he said.--kd

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