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Rainy-day fund offers silver lining

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The jobs of 535 San Francisco public school teachers and administrators have been spared as a result of a city promise to give the cash-strapped district $18 million to $20 million.

However, school officials say they’ll still have to make $13 million or more in cuts in other areas of the budget.

State law requires schools to notify teachers by March 15 if they face possible layoffs; final notices are due by May 15.

The allocation of the one-time funding, from San Francisco’s rainy-day reserves, was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia said the money should be enough to pay the salaries of the hundreds of faculty members who were issued the provisional pink slips.

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As a result, none of the district’s teachers will receive the second, final notice that they’ve lost their job.

“We couldn’t be more excited that they rescinded all the pink slips for our wonderful teachers,” said CeCe Kaufman, whose son attends kindergarten at Sherman Elementary School.

However, the district bailout will not completely fill the cuts anticipated from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget, which will be revised next week.

The jobs of 85 teachers aides, who received layoff notices in April, still remain at risk until Schwarzenegger’s updated budget emerges, according to Garcia.

“We still have a $13 million hole, and what’s left to cut?” Garcia said. “The City has helped us for one year, but next year will be worse.”

Myong Leigh, finance director for the district, which serves approximately 55,000 students, said school officials were considering a range of options for the cuts, including reducing central office jobs and trimming transportation funding.

Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2008-09 California budget, revealed in January, proposed a 10 percent reduction to education funding — the equivalent of an $800 cut per pupil, according to the California Department of Education.

Statewide, 18,000 to 20,000 teachers, staff and administrators received layoff warnings in March.

“This move was important to Mayor Newsom, even though The City has a very large deficit,” said Hydra Mendoza, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s education adviser and a school board member, referring to The City’s projected $305 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year.

With the news came high praise for Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who authored the 2003 legislation creating the rainy-day reserve, now up to $122 million, 25 percent of which can go to schools.

“If anything is going to work smoothly between City Hall and the district, it’s when both of us are on the same page,” Ammiano said.


A reprieve for teachers

The San Francisco Unified School District averted laying off educators for next year.

» $18 million to $20 million: Funds the district will receive from The City’s rainy-day fund

» $13 million: Shortfall district says it may still have

» 535: Notices of possible layoffs sent out in March

Cuts school officials are still considering

» Central office jobs

» Layoffs for 85 teachers aides

» Transportation funding

Source: San Francisco Unified School District

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