SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Hundreds of teachers in San Francisco are facing layoffs as their embattled school district struggles to prevent a state takeover.
At a special meeting on March 1, the school board will vote to decide how many San Francisco Unified School District staff members will be terminated.
SFUSD recently sent out nearly 400 preliminary layoff notices to teachers and staff across the district.
Why are so many teachers on the chopping block?
SFUSD officials released an explanation on Thursday.
“Even before the pandemic the district’s expenditures exceeded its revenue. Contributing factors include decreased student enrollment, which deepens the deficit due to revenue loss; and rising financial obligations associated with staff pensions,” SFUSD officials wrote.
“Student enrollment has declined in SFUSD and across the state in the past several years and overall expenses are growing much faster than our revenue sources,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said.
Current projections show estimated deficits of $125 million for the district’s next fiscal year, 2022-23, and a potential deficit of as much as $140 million during fiscal year 2023-24.
“Many of the employees who will receive preliminary layoff notices have worked tirelessly for SFUSD’s students and families, before and throughout this pandemic. At the end of the day, I know from personal experience that this whole process leaves us weary and deflated,” Matthews acknowledged.
“This is an added stressor in the midst of what is already a stressful time for our staff and school communities,” Matthews said Thursday.
“The majority of our staff work directly with students in schools. It is inevitable that there will need to be layoffs to those who work with students in addition to those who are in supporting roles outside of classrooms,” Matthews said.
Meanwhile, the school board’s leadership is the midst of a major upheaval.
Earlier this month, San Francisco residents sent a clear message to its school board with a recall election. Three school board members were recalled in a landslide vote: Alison Collins, Gabriela Lopez, and Faauuga Moliga.
“The voters of this city have delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else,” Mayor London Breed said. “San Francisco is a city that believes in the value of big ideas, but those ideas must be built on the foundation of a government that does the essentials well.”
Breed will appoint board replacements.
If money woes continue, the district is facing a possible takeover by the state.
In December, the school board adopted a multi-year budget balancing plan which includes significant reductions in workforce.
“Failure to faithfully implement that budget balancing plan could result in a negative fiscal certification and ultimately in substantial loss of local control over the district’s educational programs and priorities,” district officials wrote.
“The district has determined that it will be necessary to reduce or discontinue certain kinds of services within the district at the end of the 2021-22 school year. It will be necessary at the end of the 2021-22 school year to terminate the employment of some district employees,” SFUSD officials wrote.
Final notice of employee layoffs or administrative reassignments must be given by May 15 to teachers, and June 30 to administrative staff members.
On March 1, the SF Board of Education will be asked to consider approving no more than a 3% reduction of credentialed staff represented by the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), no more than 3% reduction of classified staff in UESF, and up to a 31% reduction of unrepresented management positions.
SFUSD is offering early retirement and resignation notification incentives in hopes of identifying vacancies that can be filled by existing staff whose positions are being impacted by layoffs.
Matthews apologized for a disruption caused when the board’s Feb. 22 meeting abruptly adjourn early.
The items on the board’s Feb. 22 agenda will be taken up at a special meeting starting at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24, and at a second special meeting at 5 p.m. on March 1.
The Feb. 24 meeting will cover three items that need to be presented to the board before March 1: two options to lease connected with the teacher housing project, and an update on SFUSD’s LCAP.
The majority of items from the Feb. 22 agenda, including teacher layoffs, reducing services, and a tentative agreement with UESF and SFUSD, will be moved to March 1.