17 public schools are joining a program that will allow them to experiment with new teacher work rules starting in September, city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña told Thursday. New schools, selected from 26 applicants, bring the total number of schools in the city’s 3 years old Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence program to 155. Under teachers union contract ratified in 2014, the city’s PROSE schools are permitted to make changes to teacher schedules, class sizes and other aspects of school day governed by the teacher labor agreement. New schools include Brooklyn’s Bedford Academy High School, which will cap class sizes at 25 students and give teachers a say in hiring new employees. Fariña told the program gives city educators a valuable opportunity to experiment.
“Teachers and principals know exactly what their schools need to succeed. This program has had a real impact on teachers, students and parents” Fariña said. City and teachers union created the PROSE program amid criticism that teacher contracts stifled innovation. Officials from Education Department, as well as unions representing teachers and principals, review PROSE applications. Proposals must also be approved by at least 65% of teachers in school.