Some SFUSD layoffs rescinded to aid contract negotiations 

click to enlarge Mediation: The United Educators of San Francisco, the local teachers union, and the San Francisco Unified School District will meet with a mediator today to talk about contract issues.
  • Mediation: The United Educators of San Francisco, the local teachers union, and the San Francisco Unified School District will meet with a mediator today to talk about contract issues.

Nearly half of the layoffs approved by the San Francisco Unified School District earlier this month have been rescinded, a move district officials hope will show good faith as they continue biennial contract negotiations with teachers under the oversight of a state mediator.

Spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said the district rescinded the layoffs of 89 elementary school classroom teachers, one Japanese language teacher and seven Spanish teachers. The board voted May 8 to send layoff notices to 218 faculty and staff.

Blythe said district leaders decided to recall the teachers based on anticipated money from The City’s rainy-day fund. Also, some teachers have said they would retire or resign before next year, freeing up more positions, she said.

The district expects to receive about $6 million from The City, but the transfer has not yet been approved.

“We hope it shows good faith on our part to take a calculated risk, even though the money’s not in hand,” said district labor negotiator Tom Ruiz, who is leading contract talks with the teachers union, United Educators of San Francisco.

School officials projected a $35 million deficit at the end of next year without rainy-day money, and they are asking the union for numerous financial concessions, including furlough days.

A state mediator will meet with union and district leaders today. Seymour Kramer, sent by the Public Employment Relations Board after the district declared contract negotiations at an impasse, worked successfully with the SFUSD and the union to assemble the most recent contract, in 2010.

Mediation could take as many as five sessions, with the last scheduled for the end of June. Should the sides fail to reach an agreement, a three-person fact-finding panel will be appointed to produce an advisory report that could presumably lead to an agreement.

The union, upset by the district’s financial demands and by proposed changes to special education and preschool, has already taken the first of two votes that could lead to a strike.

“It will be a real test of the SFUSD to see whether or not they heard the 97 percent of our members who voted unequivocally a couple of weeks ago,” said union spokesman Matthew Hardy.

Ruiz said the district hoped negotiations would wrap up before July 1, when the remaining layoffs take effect.

“We are putting forth our best efforts to make a settlement happen,” Ruiz said. “It takes two sides to make an agreement.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

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Amy Crawford

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