In what has become an annual ritual, San Francisco’s Board of Education voted Tuesday night to issue pink slips to 485 teachers, administrators and staff. For the first time, the board also voted to skip layoffs at the 14 schools in the Superintendent’s Zone, setting aside seniority in order to preserve jobs at schools the district argues are the neediest.
“We hate having this meeting every year,” Superintendent Carlos Garcia said, laying the blame on the state for once again planning to slash funding for education.
Garcia noted that San Francisco Unified School District was facing a potential loss of between $83 million and $120 million in state funding over the next two years.
The board is legally obligated to notify employees of potential layoffs by March 15. In previous years, the majority of layoffs were rescinded by the time the board voted on a final budget, after The City contributed money from its rainy-day fund. This year, district officials were expecting to receive $6 million.
The district is required to base layoff notices on seniority, but the school board voted to skip layoffs for 70 teachers at 14 schools in the Superintendent’s Zones in the Mission and the Bayview. Since 2010, the district has concentrated resources on these schools in order to bring up test scores of poor and minority students, and officials noted that the district had invested millions of dollars in professional development and teacher coaching.
The move was slammed by the teachers union, which argued that there are many district schools with higher proportions of disadvantaged students and lower scores on statewide exams that are not part of the zones.
“The Superintendent’s Zones are a set of schools that are based largely on geography, which is an arbitrary line to draw,” said Matthew Hardy, spokesman for United Educators of San Francisco. “Why should any school be disadvantaged because the superintendent drew a line?”
Hardy said that seniority was the only fair way to determine who would be laid off.
“When you start doing layoffs by any other means, it politicizes the schools,” he said.
Although the board voted to waive the seniority requirement, the decision must be approved by an administrative law judge.