092208sub.jpgWhenever a NYC teacher calls out sick to wrestle in the WWE or attend a relative's sentencing, the Department of Education has to send in an expensive substitute from the Absent Teacher Reserve pool.

A new report has found that the city's substitute teacher system costs $74 million a year, because the reserve teachers receive full-time salary and benefits, and many of them are senior educators at the top of their pay grade. In fact, that's why many of them say they cannot find permanent teaching jobs: Principals on a tight budget are opting for new teachers with the lowest salaries.

Now the Education Department is using the report as justification for changing the system so that teachers in the reserve pool are dropped from the payroll if they can't find a permanent post within a year. The study was conducted by the New Teacher Project, which the head of the teachers union dismisses as a "'wholly owned subsidiary' of the Department of Education that is only pushing for novice teachers to be hired,"the Sun reports.