Education

Stalled talks threaten pink-slipped teachers

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

San Francisco teachers got some discouraging news Tuesday. Negotiations between their union and the school district are stalled. This means hundreds of layoff notices may not be rescinded in time and may become permanent.

The superintendent of schools says that at this point, he would like a mediator to intervene and help in the negotiations.

More than 900 teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals in San Francisco schools received pink slips in March. The deadline to rescind those notices is May 15. The school district has proposed furlough days to avoid laying off so many people.

"We are trying to keep class size the way it is and that's why we added furlough days. Right now, we are talking about having four furlough days each year for two years," one official said Tuesday.

Kelly Riggs is a teacher who received a pink slip. She says, "Either way, it really affects the students learning, which is the bottom line. So, that's what's sad about it. More crowded classrooms or less days with teaching for the kids? So, lose-lose situation for them."

Still, the proposed furlough days are not enough to close the $133 million budget deficit the district faces over two years. Even the teachers' union agrees that this time, the safety nets are no longer there.

"We don't have the same infusion of money that we've had over the past few years. We had the rainy day fund in significant amounts over the past two years plus we had the federal stimulus money one year. We don't have any of that," a union official said.

Things have gotten even more complicated. While the district tries to balance its budget, it is also negotiating a new contract with the teachers. Negotiations are now halted, which means the layoff notices may not be rescinded before the May 15 deadline.

Some parents feel the burden is falling on them to help save jobs. At Dianne Feinstein Elementary, parents are being asked to raise more money.

"We have gone out to our parent community and asked them to donate as much as $500 to $1000 per kid just so that we can maintain basic programs like a learning support professional, or an art program, or some P.E. programs, programs that you and I took for granted in an education back when we were kids," says.

Some parents planned to join with teachers in a Tuesday night rally.

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Tags:
school layoffs, school cuts, school closures, education, lyanne melendez
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