The 2010-11 instructional calendar, with furloughs

Thanks to Suzanne Morikawa-Madden of PPS-SF, who amazes me with her diligence and attention to detail. Suzanne sent out an email blast to PPS-SF members tonight with an update on the 2010-11 instructional calendar, which has been modified to show proposed furlough days (in blue on the document I linked to above). The Board will be asked to formally approve the updated calendar at a special session now scheduled for June 3 at 5:30 p.m. In her email, Suzanne notes:

  • This draft was approved by the Calendar Committee, which included SFUSD, the teacher’s union (UESF), administrator’s union, SEIU and parent organizations like PPS-SF, PAC (Parent Advisory Committee), PTA, and the Office of Parent Relations.
  • There was discussion about having the furlough days on the two days of Thanksgiving, but because the first semester is shorter than the second semester, it was agreed that we would minimize the number of furlough days in the first semester.
  • The tentative agreement with UESF has November 1st, the day before Election Day, as a specified day for furlough because there is a planned action around education budget advocacy for that day.
  • Another goal with the scheduling of furlough days would be to space them out so that employees would not take a large pay cut in any one month.
  • Parents and guardians should plan to make arrangements for childcare as needed for furlough and Professional Development days if approved because schools will be closed on those days.

To review, last year the Board voted to shift the school year a week earlier, so the 2010-11 school year will begin on August 16, 2010 and let out on May 27, 2011. This is a benefit to middle- and high-school students, since it allows them to end their fall semester (and take final exams) before winter break. It also aligns the school district’s schedule with that of City College, a benefit to the many high school students who take concurrent courses at CCSF.

With the ratification of the new contract between SFUSD and UESF, the calendar will now be revised to contain four furlough days: November 1,  February 4,  March 25 and April 25, pending Board approval.

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9 responses to “The 2010-11 instructional calendar, with furloughs

  1. Thanks, Jennifer, for keeping the focus on what is really important. Furlough days are a symptom of the problem — budget cuts piled upon budget cuts, year after year, and a school finance system that is unsound, unstable, insufficient and ultimately unconstitutional.

  2. John, I would say that the most important thing parents can do is to advocate for better school funding so that furloughs are unnecessary.

    A critical issue is to support legislation and initiatives to modify or repeal Proposition 13.

    Furloughs are rotten for working families. They’re rotten for staff who will take a pay cut. They’re rotten for children: the last thing California’s youth need is fewer instructional minutes. (Although, to be fair, I have to say that 1 November is not ever the best day for learning.)

    Even with furloughs, some 200 teachers (including four at my school, nearly a third of the teaching staff) are laid off at present. Site funding budgets will have no room for “extras” like arts supplies and field trips. There will be fewer school nurses and less time for teachers to collaborate. I worry that some children will get less recess as teachers and administrators try to compensate for less time in the classroom. And should the budget scenario continue this way any longer, class-size reduction will be entirely gutted.

    I think that blaming SFUSD for the placement of furlough dates gets away from the core issue: furloughs are a direct consequence of underfunding our schools.

    Which makes 1 November a great furlough date: I am sure that SFUSD staff will be using the day before elections to let voters know what impact their decisions have on the state.

  3. The November 1st and April 25th furlough days just don’t make any sense. What are parents supposed to do?

    Why not make Dec 17th furlough day instead of Nov 1st? It is on a Friday (state employee furlough day?) and aren’t city employee furlough days around that time too? A lot of private companies are also closed.

    For the Spring semester, I would suggest the same. Make May 27th the furlough day instead of April 25th. It’s the last day of school, not much is happening anyway.

  4. Fair enough! This is why I like your blog – this kind of information was not clear in any of the district’s or union’s communications, or in the media. As someone who tries to follow this kind of thing closely, it still is hard to understand all the underlying facts (you see the same problem in the “cut contractors” debate). I think we could all benefit from greater budget transparency and clearer communications on coming changes. It’s stressful enough to deal with this without carrying around toxic misperceptions, as I was!

  5. John – Teachers are paid for 182 days of service (including professional development days) and are entitled to sick/personal days on top of that. The contract for next year cuts their paid days of service by four days (we are keeping the PD days for various reasons, so the school year will go from 180 to 176 days). The regularly scheduled district holidays are not part of the district’s paid days of service – teachers are paid for the days they are in the classroom and not district holidays.

  6. I appreciate the response, Rachel, but still disagree. I think an equitable solution would be for at least SOME of the furlough days to fall on existing paid holidays for teachers, so that parents aren’t required to have to cover all the regular school days (I’m assuming teachers are paid for the day after Thanksgiving, or for some of the breaks. If not, then ignore my request!) While teachers have made it clear that they are taking a hit, I feel there is very little recognition that parents are going to get hit too – in fewer services, no summer school, more fundraising demands, now more days off, etc. And of course this hits lower-income folks worse (which does not include most teachers). And your response exemplifies the attitude, along the lines of “well, stop whining it could have been worse.” I would say the same back to the teachers – we saved a lot of your jobs, so would it be too much to ask that you give up 2-4 paid vacation days for the furloughs, for the sake of the parents that pay your salaries?

  7. Well, John, I have good news for you! The days before and after Thanksgiving are already school holidays – not furlough days but regularly-scheduled district holidays. I actually like the Nov. 1 date as most kids are pretty strung out after Halloween — which I kind of see as San Francisco’s New Years Eve. But maybe that’s just me.
    Anyway, furlough days were part of the Supt’s original proposal for closing our budget gap, and the concept was supported by most of us on the Board and many parents who communicated with me. I think many people felt it was acceptable to ask everyone — employees who will see a decrease in their pay, and parents who have to find childcare — to protect our instructional program. Or would you have rathered a class size increase to save on childcare?

  8. This is pathetic that parents have to take the hit to accomodate the furloughs intended to save union jobs (which was the union’s first priority, not preserving classrooms). It would have been easier for parents if they had combined at least one or two furlough days with the Thanksgiving holiday. Many districts take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off already. Now people have to either take off work (lost income) or pay someone to watch their childen. I guess that allows the union to say everyone has to “share the pain”, but most people don’t get paid for the day after Thanksgiving already.

    Rachel, at the very least can you seek to shift the November date from the 1st to the day after Thanksgiving? Even though I marched on March 4, I don’t believe as a parent that I should have to pay (with time or money) to support yet another symbolic political action.

  9. Can SFUSD coordinate with the city and state (and maybe even private industry) to match the furlough days?

    It is a mess to have the parents having certain days off, and the kids have other days off. Families have to pay for extra child care when the furloughs do not match.