Friday, March 26, 2010

Hot topic: How many teachers was your school underfunded by in your SFUSD budget allocation?

This from a reader:
I sit on our school's Site Council and the budget we were given resulted in one teacher and several support staff being unfunded. I wanted to get a sense as to what tough choices other SSC's have had to make especially as School Site Councils need to submit their budgets to the District by April 9th. Is your PTA in a position to fund any of your school's budget gap. What kinds of things have worked or haven't worked when communicating this information and submitting funding requests from your parent community?


  1. Unless the action plan changes, which it might in favor of furloughs, Alamo will lose 3 teachers. 15 schools with the least social problems also lost their counselors on top of that. Alamo 1st grade will have 29 kids. Many schools with considerable Comp Ed half half that. That doesn't seem quite equitable.

    Many people don't remember that when the superintendent raised K class sizes last year from 20 to 22he saved a paltry 1 million. Had they found the 1 million elsewhere, like cutting down on central office conference travel expenses (Re: Francsecsa Sanchez and others), after class size increases next year the total size would look somewhat better.

    We need to focus on kids and make those class sizes as small as possible. But, I also believe that Jennifer is right, that up to a point, good teachers trump class size.

    Our PTA funds arts, music and PE but buying teachers for those subjects. We would have to lay them off to cover class size reduction. These teachers are very much part of our community and slashing those programs would be very unpopular.

    Some schools may be using Economic Impact Aid LEP money for CSR. This is very inequitable and likely unlawful. Don't let LEP kids lose their instructors by rerouting funds away from their programs.

  2. A concern for the PTA at the school to step in is that even if the PTA kicked in $$$, there's the risk that the low-senority teacher who's been pink-slipped might still get "bumped" by a higher-senority teacher from another school or whose central office position got cut.

    I can't see our PTA being enthusiastic about busting their nuts to raise money to save Beloved Teacher A's position, only to find that even though they funded Beloved Teacher A's position, More Senior Teacher Z From Somewhere Else fills it, while Beloved Teacher A still gets shitcanned.

  3. I agree with Don on most of his points. To a point, good teachers trump class size in this economy. It is already crazy (and inequitable) that PTAs are paying for curricular teachers for art and music, but these also should trump class size right now (again, up to a point, but 20-something is still okay in my book). Note that arts education is actually part of the curriculum that every California child is supposed to learn. If only the people of California and their representatives would fund the curriculum. And, yeah, we really should not be using LEP money to cover deficits.

    12:44, agreed it can be tough to fundraise for a position, not a teacher. I understand there are problems with seniority. But there are also benefits to it. Maybe there should be negotiations, involving the union, to address some of the issues, particularly at hard-to-staff schools. I guess in terms of fundraising, I would say--the issue isn't do we get to keep Teacher A, but do our kids have a teacher for ABC subject. Most of our teachers are really great and will do a good and professional job. That said, I know it is tough to lose a beloved teacher.

  4. At our middle school, the discussion has been focused on positions, not people.

    Surprisingly, we don't seem to be losing as much as I would have thought (in positions) but we will lose people pink slipped. ANY loss is painful.

    We will lose a 7th grade counselor position funded by the central office and will be left with 2 counselors for 1000+ students. Our options are to reduce the 3 counselors to some form of part time so that each grade level has a counselor.

    Then we are juggling with combining two part time secretarial positions (one for attendance and another to support counselors/registration.)

    AND, we lost our Title I funding this year - the district estimates we are 37 kids short of qualifying which would provide over $188,000. (This is the second time this has happened at a school while I've been an SSC chair - Title I funds lost due to the increasing enrollment of kids NOT low socioeconomic - yet the actual number of kids low-SES stays the same and they are still at the school. The $$$ does not follow the kids.)

    We have about 10 of the 50 adults in our school getting pink slips.

  5. Don: Please do not mislead people who read this blog. FACTCHECK-Alamo's PTA does NOT fund arts, music, or PE.

  6. The Alamo PTA and foundation are joined at the hip. Technically speaking the money comes through the foundation, but the two organizations are one in essence. For legal purposes personnel are hired through the foundation. I didn't think someone would want to parse hairs over an immaterial issue.

  7. The PTA and the Foundation are NOT joined at the hip. To not misinform fellow bloggers, the Foundation is a private organization run by parents who raise money to add staff and other things to fill the voids left by the district. To avoid the negativity and petty bickering, parents are voted in. I will eat my shoe if you tell me that you're a part of the foundation. I seriously doubt any effective organization with positive goals will ask someone like you, who seems to talk so much and, from experience, probably does little, will ask you to join. PTA on the other hand open their doors to anyone, even someone like you.
    I don't like your insinuation that these parents are doing something illegal.
    I put down Alamo as my first choice for RII, and I'm hoping to join the PTA and the Foundation if I get in.

  8. Tell us more about this foundation that Alamo has created - the how of it. Maybe this is something other PTAs should think about doing??

  9. 5:48,

    Did you have had an encounter with rabid dogs? Whoever you are you might want to read the other string about deleting posts that are rude and in poor taste.

    Obviously you know nothing about Alamo or me. I have donated untold hours to the school and in particular the junior great books program at Alamo. We are starting after the holidays to read Scott O'Dell's The Black Pearl, but that's another story...

    The foundation raises money through various fundraising efforts much like any other school. As I understand it, a PTA cannot directly hire employees so it is done through a foundation. PTA helps pay for field trips, supplies and other nonpersonnel costs. The foundation was created approx. 15 years ago to hire teachers. It used to meet as a separate entity and competed in a sense with the PTA for funds. But in recent years it has been merged for all practical purposes, though legally it is separate. I am a member of the PTA, but I do not serve on the Board.

    I didn't say anything about Alamo PTA/Foundation doing anything illegal. Please restrain yourself.

  10. Our small school will loose funding for one teacher, a half- time reading specialist and half-time counselor from the district. Fortunately, we have teachers with lots of seniority so there won't be much staff disruption. However, I don't know how the staff will decide who will teach the new split class resulting from the elimination of one teacher (short straw?).

  11. I'm very interested in Alamo, so thank you for your comments, Don. I'm not sure why so much aggression has been thrown your way, just try to shrug it off.

    Is the Alamo Foundation similar to a PTO? Seems to me the principal at Peabody said their school has a PTO not a PTA for similar reasons.

    Do you think Alamo will still be a strong school in the face of these cuts?

  12. We are a small school and saw 82% of our staff pinkslipped. We have an incredible SSC that has explored nearly a dozen budget scenarios in great detail to see what will work best.

    Even though our population will increase by 40 kids next year (thanks to a new-ish language immersion program), we expect to keep the same number of teachers...meaning big increases in class sizes and combo classes.

    We are pouring all resources into funding salaries of our support staff and learning professionals.

    Times are dire and we are exhausted...and this is only the beginning.

  13. My kids are getting an excellent education at Alamo. If you want a very diversified school Alamo is not the place. It is predominately Asian, 60 something percent. To me that is of no consequence.

    Alamo will remain a strong school I'm sure. The staff is very high quality. But it is a hard question to answer as I don't know what you look for in a school. We have a new principal this year - Dr Packer. He's doing a great job and is very personable. All the teachers my children have had were great. My oldest son is off to middle school next year. If you have a more specific question I will try to answer it. But let me put it this way - the only thing that I really don't like at Alamo is the choice of color that they painted the school - green and rose.

    As far as my secret "admirer", I think it amounts down to one person, maybe two over and over. I don't know what her problem is. But it's getting old.

  14. I too am very interested in Alamo. I have to admit, the high test scores caught my attention, and being a rookie parent who got over anxious went to school tours two years in a row. My first tour had a gal/guy Principal/President and this year the new faces: a guy/gal Principal/President. Is there a high turnover at the Leadership positions? Has that affected the quality of education? Active parents? Our co-op preschool has strong parents as a key to success. Is that true at E.S. level? Can you tell me something about the parent leadership at Alamo?

  15. 10:48-Don't bother asking Don. He won't answer you. He's just here to stir things up, in a bad way. If you read between the lines, he not saying he's a foundation member cuz he's not. He's giving information out 5th hand, because he's just reading off a brochure. If you want real accurate information, ask the Alamo Foundation directly. He's just another outsider wishing someone invited him to the party. I wonder why he wasn't invited. duh..

  16. Dude, are the parents really mean to each other at Alamo? I am not getting a good vibe here. I don't know whether I can deal with a bunch of bickering.

  17. Shouldn't we all be "invited to the party," if it is a public school? After all, PFPS always uses diversity as a selling point.

    Is Alamo not a good place to be if you don't fit in w/the power base?

  18. Does anyone have some input besides Alamo? We will never get in to the school anyways, so how about some more schools not on that list of 11....

  19. Our school is losing three teachers, the translation para (for parents who speak a foreign language) and all money for supplies. Our principal is projecting class size of 24 for K, and then 27-30 for 1 through 3, and 33 for 4 and 5. Our school has lots of poor families, and our PTA has struggled to meet the $50,000 mark. So . . . we are kind of in big trouble. I really wish that the cuts would be focused more on the schools with PTA/foundation/grant money like the Miralomas and Alamos, not the schools with lots of poor students like mine. They can afford to fund teacher slots; we can't. This is really terribly unfair.

  20. Typically the PTA president serves for two one-year terms although the previous male president only served one. I heard he is now the SFPTA president. The PTA/foundation is going strong.

    3:26 - you behavior is beyond the pale.

  21. Low-performing schools with lots of reduced/free-lunch kids have access to federal monies that the better-known schools do not.

    So it may well even out in the end.

    It is the ones stuck in the middle who suffer: performing too well to qualify for subsidies, but not yet raising enough money to make up the difference.

    Funding a teacher is expensive. We're at a school with an active and successful PTA and we don't fund classroom teachers, just part-time contractors to do art, etc. A classroom teacher would cost $84,000! (That's teh average, including benefits...)

  22. $84,000 is the average cost for the district to hire a teacher. Privately you can hire a teacher with benefits closer to $60,000. That's approx. what Alamo pays per music, art and PE teachers. If you wanted to hire a regular classroom teacher the district would frown on hiring a teacher privately for that price if you had the money in the budget to hire a teacher at the higher price. But these enrichment teachers do not supplant regular teachers so that is different.

  23. Why aren't we hearing more about other options to close the budget gap? I just posted this on another thread, but I'll repeat it here - I'd like to see both the union and the district consider furlough days before layoffs and consolidations. Furlough days seem to me to present much less of an equity problem when compared to layoffs. The system itself will be able to recover much faster from furloughs, which are temporary by design, than by consolidation and raising class sizes, which are obviously much more difficult to reverse.

    If the district thinks they are being "transparent" in this process I'd like to know what they consider "opaque."

  24. Yeah, the UC system did furloughs. It wasn't great, but it was better than this.

  25. The union and the district are in negotition. There is a limit to how much transparency is allowable at this stage...dah...

  26. If furlough is used, can PTA put in the money to pay the teachers to work on those furloughed days?

  27. UESF publishes some information in their "Table Talk" newsletters, available on their website:

    From the 3/12 issue:

    "The district proposed two furlough days next year, increasing to four if increases to class size were not agreed to. They proposed that these furlough days be in place for two years. Once we receive the requested information, we will be able to proceed with cautious confidence.

    UESF’s initial counter-proposal denied the District the ability to increase the number of furlough days without a specific agreement to do so. The union limited the term to one year while we continue to inquire about the district’s finances, and we demanded a day of sick leave for every day of furlough. This latter point will help eventual retirees in the certificated unit who need the days for service credit. UESF also included a demand that classified workers get credit for vacation and sick time accrual on furlough days.

    The district proposed that initial furlough days be the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. UESF countered with the day before Election Day with the second day mutually determined during the second semester. The Union pointed out that having two days within the same pay period creates an undue burden on classified workers. Also included in the counter was a demand that no UESF member will lose money for a furlough day unless all the administrators also lose that pay."

    To 5:49 - is your PTA going to arrange and pay for transportation for any kids who ride school buses to get to your school? Are they going to pay for the cafeteria breakfasts and lunches to be brought in and served, and for the custodian(s) to come in? Also, the school secretary and any other support personnel? And pay the principal, too. Presumably, if there is going to be a furlough day, the principal would be losing their pay for that day as well.

    I'm a teacher, and I would be extremely uncomfortable with a PTA paying for us to open on a day when other schools with less extra funding had to be closed, even if it was allowed.

  28. Does anyone have info about the funding situation of schools in the Noe, Bernal, Glen Park areas?

  29. "Presumably, if there is going to be a furlough day, the principal would be losing their pay for that day as well."

    Wrong. Principals are not paid hourly, or by the day, they are on salary and would get paid for the days even if they don't work those days. Are they going to cut administrators' salaries, pro rata?

  30. 7:36, I sure hope so. That was part of the union's counter offer.

  31. How do Furlough Days help the students? Any studies done on smaller class size vs. more school days. I could care less if the principal also has the day off. Well I agree with the 2 furlough days being a hardship in the same pay period, lets do what is best for families. I think if we are going to be forced to have them, the Tues and Weds before Thanksgiving is fabulous. At the very least, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and then maybe Good Friday.

  32. My understanding of the research (and any education research geeks out there PLEASE chime in if I'm wrong) is that having MORE instruction time makes a bigger difference than having a smaller class size.

  33. According to Rachel Norton's blog, having 4 furlough days instead of 2 would prevent 75 teacher layoffs, which I think is worth 2 instruction days for my kids.

    Also, the increase in class sizes won't always mean each K class goes from 22 to 26. Let's say you have 3 K classes currently registered at 22, they may reorganize to 2 K, 2 1st, and a K-1 split, which would allow them to lay off 1 teacher. Split grades are fine at schools that have their curriculum organized around it, such as SF Community, but it could be hard for teachers to get up to speed if they're not used to teaching that way. If it's done without a teaching assistant, the new split grade kids could end up with about 1/2 the usual instruction time.

    The 2 extra furlough days seem like a 4 million dollar bargain to me.

  34. 9:19 you are correct - more instruction time has a more beneficial impact than smaller class size, despite what many may say.

    Also, California already has less time in class than, say, Texas having cut an hour off of the daily schedule back in the early 90s. My nephews each go to school an hour longer in Austin.

  35. FYI, SFUSD already has the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, so the 2 furlough days that week would be Monday and Tuesday. Frankly, not much education happens that week anyway.

  36. I think Thanksgiving week off, sounds great or why don't we cut off the start of the school year because mid-August is really, just ridculous and it would not interfere with any ongoing lessons.

  37. I'm for a a ski week in Feb. I'm sure plenty of SF parents would love a week off for Chinese NY.

  38. As for cutting principals' salaries,that would have to be negotiated with their union, AFL-CIO. I believe SFUSD administrators are the only ones in a major California urban area that are unionized. That's what I've been told anyway. If someone knows otherwise please let me know.

  39. "Does anyone have info about the funding situation of schools in the Noe, Bernal, Glen Park areas?"

    Not quite what you asked, but I know Buena Vista is losing 3, Monroe is losing 13 (because it's losing it's STAR status, as it's test scores have improved - a bitter irony).
    Lakeshore I've heard may lose 2-3.

    Have heard a few other numbers for others, but with the exception of Monroe they all seem to be in the 2-4 staff range, depending on how big the school is.

    Revere - don't know how many it's losing, but it may get more money from the Feds 'cos of the "failing school" designation and Tagimori (sadly) deciding to move on, which would make Revere eligible for additional funding.

  40. Are all of these regular classroom teachers?

    Looks like we might lose 5 positions, but none of them are regular classroom teachers. (Losing the tech/computer teacher, 2 reading recovery specialists, a bilingual clerk in our office, a community advocate, etc.)

  41. I have 1 child at Alamo for four years. Reading this thread I find the comments by Don to be correct. The Foundation and the PTA work together.

  42. 12:26-Dear, we all work together. That's not the question. Are you even a member of the foundation or PTA at Alamo? And I don't mean did you pay your dues and carry a card. I mean go to the meetings, serve on the board, help out, anything? Cause I think you're Don Sockpuppeting again as one of your six anonymous identities! Good one Don!

  43. Jesus, 7:41. Give it a rest. Wow, what if that poster is not Don - how condescending. You and Don need to go fight it our somewhere else than this blog. This bickering and sniping are doing Alamo no good. And I'm not Don, though I'm sure you will say I am.

  44. Look, I am not bickering with this person Moggy. She is constantly on this blog berating me and saying utterly libelous things about me. I have felt compelled to defend myself on a few occasions, but for the most part i just ignore her. What can I do about it if she wants to spend her time and efforts in a campaign to smear me just because she has something eating at her? That is her problem not mine.

    One or more anonymous people had a problem that I posted too much. So I scaled back. But don't fault me because moggy can't restrain herself. What can i do about it?

  45. I believe Principals were given revised budgets from the District yesterday. Has anyone heard about the impact of this? Did budgets go Up or Down and what does the revision represent?

  46. Our budget went up. Don't know why but it's great news.

  47. Our budget went up. Good news for a change is nice!

  48. The new budget projections assume four furlough days; the old ones assumed two.

    They don't consider the changing state financial forecast (revenues are way up, and the Legislative Analyst's Office projects 60% of the current 2.3 billion dollar revenues surplus is owed to education) and there have been some adjustments to the Governor's proposal. Presumably the District is waiting for the May revise, or for impasse with UESF. It's hard to get massive concessions and big layoffs when a budget situation is improving. Very unfortunate for schools, but nothing about this budget scenario seems student-centered.

  49. Question re consolidations and lay offs

    I am on the layoff list.
    Today I learned that my school will consolidate 1.8 positions.

    I assume this means that even if the lay offs are rescinded my position could be consolidated.

    Where is the written procedure re consolidation? Must consolidations be based on seniority or can administrator select to consolidate based on "need" without substantiation, i.e., can the administration select to consolidate anyone he/she wants?


  50. "Where is the written procedure re consolidation? Must consolidations be based on seniority or can administrator select to consolidate based on "need" without substantiation, i.e., can the administration select to consolidate anyone he/she wants?"

    Hi Amanda,

    I am a CLAD teacher who was also consolidated, along with another BCLAD teacher.

    When the three furlough days were ok'd by the district and union, and a substantial influx of money was thrown our way by the district (unexpectedly), I was told the BCLAD teacher was going to stay and I was still going to be consolidated.

    I was confused by this, considering I have more seniority and am liked by the parents and staff. The principal claimed "program need" even though there was no bilingual classroom open for this teacher.

    I figured out what he was doing later. He basically moved senior teachers around and filled ELD classes with BCLAD teachers to make room for another BCLAD teacher, leaving me to find other placement.

    I'm assuming he is doing this because the new superintendent is moving in the direction of more bilingual/immersion schools for the future. BCLAD teachers are not easy to come by, I guess, so he wants to keep more on staff. That's just a guess, obviously.

    So to answer your question, the union says that it's a slippery slope to fight, but you can argue that your seniority trumps so-called "program need" (that is, principals that try to loophole their way through. I'm not talking about true program need.)

    However, principals aren't supposed to consolidate by personal choice. They are supposed to consolidate by seniority.

    I chose not to fight it. If he doesn't want me there, I don't want to be there. I went to the consolidation fair and met the principals who were looking for teachers. I'm hoping for a good fit and a grade I feel comfortable teaching. We find out this week, supposedly. My stomach is in knots just thinking about it.

    Good luck to you. I hope everything works out for you.