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Play Ball!

As the Giants wrap up spring training, there is lots of talk of who will make the final roster, and I wish that was all we were worried about.

In SFUSD, it’s still hot stove season.  The hot stove season is when we all sit around the general store’s wood stove and imagine our dream team.  The kind of team that can afford to keep a teacher after they leave their pre-tenure days.  The Adam Felder in the Atlantic explains Major League compensation this way:

“In broad strokes, the current compensation system works something like this: Most players, upon entering the league, make the league-wide minimum for their first three seasons. Starting in their fourth year, they can start to make larger and larger percentages of what they might make on the open market. And after six years of MLB service, a player becomes eligible for free agency, at which point he can finally see the sort of compensation that most people associate with pro athletes.” (2015)

In SFUSD, by the time a teacher reaches ‘free agency,’ at which point a teacher might think they deserve their own apartment, they’ll decide they have to find a better clubhouse in nearly any neighboring county with a decent front office and manager.

Right now the district and the teacher’s union, UESF, are getting closer and closer to real number based negotiations.  Both sides say they want a raise for teachers, which carries about as much risk as claiming love for your mother.

The real risk will be how much money is the front office willing to shift to the ball players.  What percentage of the pie should teachers and schools get?  In the beginning of this bargaining season, we’ll break down some numbers adding our own sabermetrics to discussion.  Dig in to the batter’s box and keep your eyes peeled.  Here we go.

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Some supporters of central office spending say that San Francisco is different because it is both a school district and a county office of education at the same time. This fact is clear on the websites we’ve used to analyze expenditures and we’ve never compared “apples to oranges.” Superintendent Carlos Garcia’s use of this fact to claim that district critics don’t understand, is off base. This feature does indeed make SFUSD unique and in fact should make us even more efficient in getting money to the classroom.

This SFUSD Draft Budget appears to be the latest from the Superintendent’s Office.

Amidst the hue and cry directed at Sacramento concerning the devastating budget cuts affecting public schools, it has been hard to discern the steps we could be taking right now to support San Francisco’s school children.

Schools Superintendent Carlos Garcia talks about the need for a lawsuit—a lawsuit not yet filed—against the state for the failure to provide adequate funding to educate all children. The local teachers’ union is urging amendments to the state constitution to make it easier to pass a budget and raise revenues. The state PTA wants to reduce the threshold for local parcel tax approval from two-thirds to 55 percent.

These solutions are all good public policy—and we should join the fight to make them happen. But they will not come soon enough for the 55,000 students enrolled in San Francisco public schools. These children cannot wait for a new California Constitution, the repeal of Proposition 13, or the idea of a lawsuit to make its torturous path to the California’s Supreme Court.

Today, what San Francisco’s children need is action on an issue we can control right now—the local SFUSD budget. Our children need Superintendent Garcia and the school board to face this crisis with courage by radically redesigning the SFUSD budget to protect the classroom.
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Read “Cut administration not schools,” the latest from the SF budget blog team, which is up on the politics blog of the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

In the interests of transparency, SF budget blog is making available the following list of all SFUSD central office staff members making at least $82,000 per year (the top teacher salary in SFUSD):

SFUSD central office payroll

There are 227 people total. Please note that some of the employees listed actually work at school sites some of the time. For example, under “APD Screening and Assessment” there are “psychologists” who work at multiple school sites throughout the week, similar to the plumbers and bond project managers for ADA modernization.

Our question is, are all of these high-paid positions essential during this budget crisis?  Many of them no doubt are, but doesn’t the public deserve some evidence that this taxpayer money is being well-spent, especially when we are talking about cuts to classrooms?

We think the district should take this list and next to each name, give the public a 1-2 line justification of why we need to keep funding this position while we cut (cheaper) classroom teachers.

SF budget blog has learned about a proposed set of alternative cuts from a group called the Children’s Allocation Team (CAT). The CAT Proposed Budget was presented at the SF Board of Education’s Committee of the Whole meeting this past Tuesday.

Apparently SFUSD’s proposed cuts were developed by something called the Resource Allocation Team (RAT). So the CAT team says they want to work with (not eat?) the RAT team to create a budget that protects the classroom.

Here is an excerpt from an email we received from the CAT team:

Have you heard?…

…about the Children’s Allocation Team (CAT)?  This group of parent advocates and educators have taken the budget shortfall for SFUSD ($113 million for the next 2 years) and created a alternative set of cuts that defends the classroom.  The CAT budget would mean:

  • NO CLASS SIZE INCREASES
  • NO FURLOUGH DAYS
  • NO CUTS TO PARAPROFESSIONALS, COUNSELORS, PARENT LIAISONS, etc.

The budget that CAT created, entirely on their own, is not perfect and still needs some blanks filled in.  But the point of it’s creation is to show that OUR BUDGET CAN BE BALANCED WITHOUT TAKING AWAY OUR CHILDREN’S TEACHERS, PARAPROFESSIONALS, NURSES AND OTHER SUPPORT STAFF!!  These cuts would be felt on the administrative level and would leave our class size intact, and maintain the adult to child ratio that we currently have.