More than 100 San Francisco teachers will receive preliminary layoff notices in the next month, a number that is far smaller than last year thanks in large part to voters approving Proposition 30 in November.
Every year, school districts issue preliminary layoff notices based on budgets that include unknowns, like the state budget. Many notices are often later rescinded as budgets are finalized. This year, the layoff notices in San Francisco are largely the result of losing a variety of grants and other funding sources, according to San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
“The good news is there are 200 fewer notices than last year,” Blythe said.
School Improvement Grants are one source of lost funding. The grants were three-year funds given by the federal government aimed at improving student learning in high-need schools. San Francisco received $45 million in 2010 to help turn around its lowest-performing schools, many of which are located in the Mission and Bayview neighborhoods.
Without the funding, school districts must adjust. This year, 117 teachers stand to receive preliminary notices as well as 24 administrators, 46 teacher’s aides and 10 early childhood educators. Early childhood education reductions are a result of declining enrollment, Blythe said.
Last year, 485 notices were sent out because the district was unsure of its actual funding. Roughly 218 employees actually received layoff notices in May.
Matthew Hardy, spokesman for the United Educators of San Francisco, said the teachers union is turning its attention from preventing the district from issuing layoffs to The City, which controls funds that could be used to save jobs.
“We want The City to pledge rainy day funds before the notices go out,” he said. “That way you don’t have to go through all the madness of people receiving notices and worrying if they have jobs or not.”
The rainy day fund was established in 2003 to capture surplus money from The City to provide funds to the district when necessary. Last year, the SFUSD received $6 million in such funds.
But Blythe said the SFUSD didn’t issue preliminary notices in order to ensure getting rainy day funds this year. Instead, Prop. 30 is expected to fund schools at similar levels to the 2012-13 school year, meaning no major cuts will be coming.
“We have a reduction in state funding relative to the cost-of-living increase,” Blythe said. “If our reduction doesn’t account for the cost of living, we may still be eligible for rainy day funds. This is all so expensive and emotionally taxing. We have to issue notices, but we don’t want to issue more than necessary.”