Slow Internet speeds and faulty connections have hindered the work of local teachers and other school staff, costing the city millions of dollars.
According to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the city paid more than 30,000 teachers and other personnel a total of at least $38 million in additional pay for time they spent online at work and at home due to the slow Internet speeds at their schools.
An April 26 United Federation Teachers e-mail to chapter leaders throughout the five boroughs revealed that arbitration between the union and the city deemed teachers and other staff were entitled to back pay for time completing lesson plans and filing reports online after normal working hours between Sept. 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012.
Educators eligible for the compensation received a total of $38 million in their April 30 paychecks. A second round of payments was made to cover the period between Jan. 1 and March 2013, with further compensation determined for individual schools between teachers and principals.
Officials from the Department of Education (DOE) did not respond to several requests from The Press for comment.
Slow Internet speeds are endemic in public schools in the northwest Bronx and throughout the city according to a recent report by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s office entitled “New York City’s Digital Deficit.” The study says the Internet speed at three quarters of city schools operates at a crawling pace — 100 times slower than speeds called for in President Barack Obama’s long-term National Broadband Plan.
The DOE has publicly rejected Mr. Stringer’s report.
Meanwhile, teachers say the sluggish Internet speeds and disrupted connections hamper their ability to efficiently work.
“It was a huge inconvenience,” said Alan Ettman, a UTF representative at DeWitt Clinton High School, referring to the school’s slow Internet speed.
However, the problem is most pronounced for staff working with special education students. “They were grumbling to me all the time,” said Mr. Ettman, who teaches English literature.