Layoffs imminent to relieve school budget 

San Francisco’s superintendent of schools on Tuesday said laying off teachers, increasing class sizes and reducing school programs would help close the district’s $113 million budget gap.

Teachers and parents packed the boardroom Tuesday night where Superintendent Carlos Garcia proposed a slew of ideas to help the district remain fiscally solvent through the next two years, including furloughs and a reduction in school safety, violence prevention, and math and reading staff development programs.

Reducing programs would only crack the surface. Garcia was blunt about how devastating the cuts would be during the next two years, blaming Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for hitting schools again in his proposed state budget.

“Are we going to have layoffs this year? Absolutely,” Garcia said during the meeting. “The tsunami indeed has struck.”

Garcia didn’t say how many layoffs there would be, but preliminary pink slips are set to go out March 15.

Part of Garcia’s proposal included shifting money around and possibly going after a parcel tax to help offset looming cuts.

But the largest portion of the presented budget cuts — $44 million — would come from labor contracts, Garcia said.

“It is not our job to accelerate the destruction of our schools,” Lita Blanc, a literacy teacher at Moscone Elementary School, told the board.

Although the Board of Education has a few months before finalizing the cuts, members did vote to reduce summer school classes, which would save close to $2 million for two years. Summer school would be limited to high school students who need credits to graduate and some special-education students.

Before the board meeting, teachers held a rally outside district offices, pleading that the district stay away from teachers and students when making cuts to education spending. They demanded Garcia be transparent and honest about his plans for cuts moving forward.

“Teachers and parents are incredibly frustrated by the situation,” said Matthew Hardy, communications director for the United Educators of San Francisco. “Schools are slowly getting dismantled. Our students deserve better.”

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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