SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘Layoffs’ Category

Take no prisoners, er…teachers

By Leo Bennett-Cauchon

Let’s pledge that children come first at Sac City Unified.
Let’s promise to put a child’s best interest at the heart of every decision we make.
Let’s stand up together.
What would happen?

Dear Board Members:

For your consideration tonight and this coming school year I would like to offer an alternative vision from my home town. I have many nieces and nephews in San Diego so I continue to follow education where I began public school teaching. This was during the Alan Bersin era of top down change.

This era is featured by Diane Ravitch in her recent book which I hope you are pondering. Here are some excerpts from an interview with her on SDUSD’s experience with the pilot project of the change model that SCUSD is adopting in many ways, even if it is dressed in a gentler style.

Why San Diego? What is it about the battles here that proved important for you in illustrating a larger point about school reform?
San Diego was a very important district in the current reform narrative because it was the first big district to apply the top-down approach. The leadership knew exactly what teachers should be doing, and they required compliance. Its “take-no-prisoners” approach was subsequently copied by Joel Klein in New York City and Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C.

Conflict is a sign of failed leadership in education. When one is running a prison system, it is important to have a tough, top-down style, because you can’t take chances. But in education, the leadership must rely on the teachers to do the daily work. If the leadership does not win their willing, even enthusiastic, support, then the reforms will stall. Teachers are educated adults; they have experience with students. They don’t like to be treated like children. They need to feel respected.

There are plenty of problems in San Diego but I do think that the board majority there (which also operates with a policy governance model) can provide examples that are worth your consideration.

Below is an excerpt from the March annual State of the District speech by the board president. I urge you to consider placing the vision of community-driven change ahead of chief-driven change:

“The competing vision for reform comes from what I would characterize as the community model. This vision sees change as fundamentally coming from those closest to kids – teachers, parents, principals, support staff at the school such as paraeducators, counselors, librarians and office staff, community volunteers and even students themselves. The community model puts its faith in strong relationships built between people within a school community, striving for what University of Chicago professors Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider term ‘Trust in Schools.’ ” (SDUSD President)


Corporate restructuring

The news that Superintendent Jonathan Raymond is seeking permission from trustees to hire a chief accountability officer for SCUSD does not allay very real fears that Raymond is accelerating a push to develop a corporate education culture in Sacramento.

Consider these job titles: Chief Talent Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Portfolio Officer…all with annual salary ranges between $125,000-175,000. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a strong proponent of privatization, devised this idea of “administrative restructuring.”

These executives (most who have never taught in a classroom or been a principal) make the rounds throughout the countries’ school systems while changing job titles and descriptions. It’s a smorgasboard of CEO’s. Raymond was a chief accountability officer before he was hired in Sacramento.

The ultimate goal is to run the school system like a corporation –SCUSD teachers will have continued pressure to “teach the test” and improve API scores — data will be relentlessly tracked and tied to performance by the chief accountability officer.

This reform leads to what education historian Diane Ravitch calls a huge mistake:

Teachers — not just union leaders — are unhappy, frustrated, and demoralized. So are parents, because they don’t like the high-stakes testing regime either. They don’t like that their children are losing time for the arts, science, history, geography, physical education, foreign languages, and everything that is not tested. They may not be well-informed, yet they know that their children are missing out on a good education.

Time for the board to step up

By Lori A. Jablonksi

Sixty-seven teachers at C.K. McClatchy High School voted this week to overwhelmingly support the collective bargaining agreement between the district and Sacramento City Teachers Association.

I want to make sure I do my best to convey the general sense and mood as
McClatchy teachers gave their approval to donate to the District over $1,000
annually for the next two years to fund elementary class-size reduction and
to establish a retiree benefit trust.

Teachers voted with no guarantee that the counselors we so desperately
need at the middle and high school levels will return.  And they did
so without any word whether pink-slipped high school teachers would be
back in the classrooms next year.  One teacher called his vote a “leap of
faith” that the Board will finally “get it” and start paying attention to
the budget and actual spending, rather than just approve what the District
staff presents.

Another, a teacher with teens soon to start college, had tears in her
eyes as she voted (actually, quite a few did).  She told me that with her
husband furloughed and with the astonishing increases in the price of
tuition she had no idea what she was going to do about her kids’
college future.  This agreement, she said, would essentially wipe away
what little discretionary income her family had left each month. (She
noted too, as did several others, that at least with furloughs they could
spend the day off at home. A bit of gallows humor, perhaps, in a
terrible situation.)  Nevertheless, she told me she voted for it, as did
over 90% of the McClatchy staff.

Most concerning to me, however, was the overall sense of skepticism
expressed that Superintendent Raymond and the members of the Board of
Trustees truly appreciate that the teachers have agreed to make a
significant financial sacrifice in order to repudiate the “race to the
bottom” mentality others were so quick to embrace:  that furloughs (teaching
fewer days!) in any way, shape or form are consistent with “putting kids

Now that the agreement has been ratified, the District, thanks in large part
to its teachers, should be celebrated far and wide as a place where the
school year was kept intact, students and families were not turned away
through furloughs, and the true education mission was preserved.

It is now time to ask SCUSD board members to step up and match the
commitment shown by District teachers to keep cuts as far away from the kids
as possible.

Over the past year, I have joined others, including Board Member
Rodriguez, in advocating for a “line-by-line” budget review public work shop
in order to ensure that all dollars budgeted and spent are done so with
priority concerns–our kids’ classroom learning experience–in mind.

This is a plea to create such a process.

It will help re-assure teachers, parents and the community, at this
crucial time when so many are sacrificing so much, that the District Board
of Trustees are determined to leave no stone unturned to find ways to reduce
the cuts to teaching and support staff going forward.   We might even
discover a way to fully fund our middle and high school counselors and
restore some reality to the oft-stated principle that we believe in
nurturing a college-going culture in this district.

Text of proposed contract

The Sacramento city Teachers Association (hereinafter referred to as “Association”) and the Sacramento City Unified School District (hereinafter referred to as “District”) agree to the following:
The overall purpose of this Letter of Agreement is to set forth certain understandings between the parties even though the Association believes there is no obligation to enter into negotiations. In order to provide fiscal stability to the District and to retain as many teachers as possible during this fiscal crisis, the parties are agreeing to make the changes set forth below.
1. SCTA unit members shall contribute the equivalent of three (3) days of salaries in each of the two years 2010-11 and 2011-12 only. It is estimated that this has a value between $2.1 million and $2.4 million of unrestricted dollars in each year. This contribution shall be made through monthly employee payroll deductions in a flat dollar amount of $95 per month for 10 months from each employee for each of the two years. The Parties will explore a pass through or donation mechanism. The savings the District derives from this contribution shall be applied to restoring K-3 class size reduction (CSR) with a goal of achieving a ratio of 1:25 for the two year period. With the restoration of K-3 CSR employees, preparation time shall be provided with existing staff at no additional cost to the District.
2. In the event that State or Federal legislation is passed to fund K-3 CSR, the parties shall meet to discuss the impact of the legislation.
3. Common Planning Time (CPT) Amendment. The Parties agree to amend the current contract language so that each K-12 teacher in the unit will be able to perform 20 hours of common planning time each year either before or after the regular school day. These hours shall be applied towards the hours required for professional development. Participation in additional common planning time shall be on a voluntary basis. CPT shall be planned by the site administrator in collaboration with the site staff. All savings from current funds used for CPT shall be used to restore bargaining unit positions including counseling positions.
4. Health Benefit Co-Pay changes and compensation shift. The Parties agree to amend the co-pays and program offerings in the following areas:
a) The Health Net prescription program will change to 5/15/35.
b) The Health Net out-of-area 65+ retiree program will be reduced to approximately the amount of contribution to the in-area program by replacing the current program with an agreed upon broker recommended offering. To support the transition to a lower cost program, such retirees in the out-of-area programs will have the Medicare Part B lowest level paid provided that the total costs per retiree is approximately the same as the in-area costs.
c) The Kaiser Prescription rebate program will end effective July 1, 2010. The savings, if sufficient, will be applied to the Kaiser plan to include chiropractic coverage first, then if funds remain to laser and multi-focal surgery if there are sufficient savings to fund these benefits. There shall be no additional cost to the District.
d) In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, the savings from the changes listed in a) and b), not c), above will be applied to fund the District’s GASB-45 liability. The Parties shall work together to create a Trust to administer and fund the GASB-45 liability. On July 1, 2012, the savings shall be applied to the SCTA salary schedule as a flat dollar amount on each cell. Some of the savings shall be applied to certain cells of the salary schedule as the Parties may agree for the 2011-12 school year.
5. The Parties shall explore creating a retirement incentive for unit members retiring on June 30, 2012.
6. Professional Development. The District and SCTA agree to collaborate to focus the current Professional Development Program on desired outcomes.
7. Retiree Vesting. In order to reduce future costs and based on the parties’ broker and third party Independent Consultant’s advice, the parties agree to amend the current vesting period of 10 years in Article 13 of the collective bargaining agreement. Unit members with less than 15 years of service to the District as of July 1, 2010 will have three years from that date to qualify for the current 10 year rule. After July 1, 2013, as the Parties agree all teachers in order to be eligible for retiree health benefit will need to have the following:
at age 55 at least 20 consecutive years of service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit at age 56 at least 19 consecutive years of service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit at age 57 at least 18 years of consecutive service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit at age 58 at least 17 consecutive years of service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit at age 59 at least 16 years of consecutive service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit at age 60 at least 15 years of consecutive service to the District in the SCTA bargaining unit
In addition to the current brokers, the parties agree to utilize the Segal Company or other mutually agreeable consultant to review and analyze the changes and make additional recommendations over the contributions to support the retiree health benefit program.
To reduce future costs for retiree health benefits, all qualifying retirees who receive health benefits may opt to decline the health coverage. The retiree will receive on an annual basis 50% of the average in area premium cost to purchase other insurance coverage(s) of their choice. The remainder of the savings will be applied to fund the District’s GASB-45 liability.
8. In the 2010-11 school year, unit members shall contribute $15 per month for ten months to fund retiree benefits. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, unit members shall contribute $20 per month for each of the ten months of each school year to fund retiree benefits. These funds shall be placed in a Trust to be created by SCTA and the District and jointly administered by the Parties.
9. Follow up clarifications. The parties agree to clarify the language of the amendments identified in this Agreement in order to import them into the contract as soon as possible.
10. Parcel Tax Effort. The parties agree to work together to seek a parcel tax as soon as possible. The intent of the parcel tax shall include supporting K-3 CSR, additional class size reduction and other efforts to support educational programs agreeable to the parties and the public.
11. School Calendar Modifications. The parties agree to modify the K-12 calendar by starting after Labor Day and taking Thanksgiving week off. The work year for teachers shall be 181 plus 3 staff development days. The Parties shall meet to establish a 2010-11 and 2011-12 calendars as soon as possible.
12. The current term of the collective bargaining agreement shall be extended to June 30, 2012. However, in the event that the District receives a negative certification of its budget from the Sacramento County Office of Education, the Parties agree to reopen negotiations on compensation.
June 10, 2010

Governing coherently

At tonight’s school board meeting, the trustees will be discussing and acting on the idea of coherent governance. Also on the table is the approval of the Capitol Collegiate Academy Charter School, the 2011 budget, and a reduction in force of classified and certificated employees.

Public comment is scheduled for 10:17 p.m.

Unwise decisions that repeat past mistakes…

On March 5th, SCUSD’s Board meeting concerning layoffs was a disappointing effort that will result in destroying morale and harming the emotional life within our schools.

Most of those dedicated to and involved with students will dig down and increase their usual self sacrifice. Some will have to pull back for self preservation. A few will be pushed beyond their personal breaking points. And why? To “provide flexibility” to management to issue “notice to a maximum number of certificated employees to ensure that there are no possibilities of surplus employees.” The Board has decided unwisely and put into motion a self-declared “worst case” scenario.

If the core mission is direct service to students then why is SCUSD cutting nurses, counselors, librarians, social workers, psychologists and social workers by 90%?

The reason stated for the cuts was that categorical funding has decreased by 4.5%. So why not a flexibility level of 4.5%? Why not the state average of 6.16% staff reduction (CTA) as sufficient flexibility?

The Board passed a second motion to bring folks back as quickly as feasible. Contact your Board members and ask for an immediate workshop to hear from direct service staff and the public about other areas of flexibility farther from our students.

Previous suggestions by management should also be considered. The $475,000 projected decrease from bottled water, postage, COBRA, and workers’ comp reductions that was demonstrated in 08-09 could be adopted. That will bring back about 3.5 full-time employees (FTE). There is a conservative estimate of saving $200,000 from outside contracts. That will bring back 6.4 full-time employees.

Eliminating The Connection is preferable to eliminating secondary music and art. That will bring back 5.1 FTE. The $94,000 three unpaid work days that unrepresented management generously put on the table would bring back 3 FTE. This brings the total of “student ready” positions available for immediate morale stimulus to 18 FTE which covers all 14.4 librarians and 4 of the music teachers.

We borrowed a million dollars from adult education to balance 08-09. Why are we not borrowing the $2.93 million needed to bring back nurses, counselors, librarians, social workers, psychologists and social workers? Ninety-five FTE could immediately have their hearts handed ba ck so that they can continue to give them to our children. A $3.93 million dollar total loan would still leave $4.77 million in this account according to the first interim report (the updated budget numbers have not been available after repeated requests).

Adult education is showing growing-ending balances, which is often seen as demand for this program increases during a recession. So why is SCUSD looking for flexibility from adult education teachers? Consider borrowing $6.5 K from the very fund their efforts create and bring them back immediately. This would still leave a balance of $4.12 million after bringing back 21 FTE.

The Board has not considered the take-rather-than-borrow flexibility for the remaining stated $7.3 million in 08-09 loans from/to itself. There is also a multi-year repayment flexibility.

SCUSD has been laying off and rehiring for the past five years. Our new Board repeated the past mistake of over-listening to management even though practicing better listening of the public. Management is being allowed to leave way too many answers for a later date. Our children deserve better outcomes that truly value the teaching and services they need from Board decisions. This is the recent campaign promise that should not be flexible.

Written by scusdobserver

March 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Highlights from the March 5 Board Meeting

Item 10.3: Budget update was presented. The 08-09 budget now has the flexibility to take rather borrow 4 M from other funds which would lessen the impact on 09-10. No decision on this option was reached. The district will transfer categorical money to cover the remaining 3.8 M shortfall for 08-09. The shortfall in funding for 09-10 decreased from 15.7 M to 15.4 M. A public hearing was held on moving categorical money in 09-10. This move was approved in concept but the specifics will come back for individual action.

Public Comment: Nurses, counselors, social workers, school psychologists and parents shared personal stories about the direct services that have supported students and contributed to student growth and, at times, survival. The district is proposing cutting 90% of the people who deliver these services.

Item 10.5: Certificated teachers and pupils services layoff resolution. District management is proposing cutting about 16% of staff in these areas. Some specific subjects like music are proposed for 100% cuts. After a long discussion this item was continued to March 9th to allow staff time to provide rationales for the layoffs and to develop specifics concerning the central office reorganization and its related cost savings.

Item 10.7: The revised school closure criteria based on capacity was presented. Staff was directed to apply the new 10-level scale to additional criteria other than the three of capacity, of resident % and poverty factors. Specific information on each district school was also shared.

Item 10.2: At the close of the meeting the Board heard staff recommend a denial of the new charter school proposal for the Visionary Institute of Math and Science. After some of the members spoke well of their efforts and others encouraged the petitioners to return next year the Board voted unanimously to adopt management’s recommendation.

Items 10.1 and 10.8: School Assistance and Intervention and also Board Bylaw on Agenda/Meeting Materials was postponed due to proposed length of meeting.

Item 9.1: The Special Education Local Plan, Area Annual Service Delivery Plan and Annual Budget Plan were reviewed and will return for approval March 19th.

Highlights of the March 9th Continuation meeting: The Board briefly reviewed the revised organization of the central office. A longer review and questioning occurred in response to management’s explanation of its reasons for the areas and numbers chosen for layoffs. After limiting public comment to 1 minute per person and 10 minutes total the Board discussed the layoffs and changing the language to may need reduced services. This was approved by unanimous vote. However, after receiving phone-in legal advice the Board decided by unanimous vote to reconsider and adopt management’s proposal to lay off 386 certificated teaching and pupil service certificated employees.

Written by scusdobserver

March 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm