School subtractions adding up

As many as 90 San Francisco teacher’s aides, who do everything from read aloud to students to score tests, will soon learn whether they will have jobs this fall.

San Francisco Unified School District officials will work between now and April 29 to determine just how many aides could lose their jobs, according to district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe. By law, aides must be notified 45 days before the end of the school year whether they will have a job for the next school year.

Though teacher’s aides predominantly work part time, they perform a number of tasks — including helping students with independent study and remedial work, taking attendance and a laundry list of administrative work — that would otherwise fall to the teacher.

“They virtually run a number of the classes,” said Dennis Kelly, head of the United Educators of San Francisco. “They’re usually from the same communities as the students, they relate well to the kids and they’re the eyes and ears of the teachers.”

Aides can hang on to jobs if they decide to become special-education aides, because those jobs are protected by law and there is a need for more of them, Blythe said.

The district is projecting a $40 million shortfall in its 2008-09 budget due to education-spending cuts in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed California budget. Already, 535 full-time teachers and administrators have received letters saying they may not have jobs next fall, though 150 teachers’ notices were rescinded this week, according to Kelly.

On May 15, the district must tell those teachers and administrators how many of them will actually be laid off, according to Blythe.

Educators are still hoping the district will receive money from San Francisco’s Rainy Day Fund, approved by voters in 2003, in order to rescue employees’ jobs, according to Kelly. Although Mayor Gavin Newsom has pledged as much as $31 million, the final sum will not be known until sometime in May, when the governor’s budget revision is released, according to Deputy Controller Monique Zmuda.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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