Recap: February 26, 2013

The second meeting in February is always the meeting nobody wants to go to, because it’s the meeting where the Board votes on layoffs and non-re-elect notices to non-tenured teachers. There had been some hope earlier in the year that, due to the brightening state budget picture and the passage of Prop. 30 in November, there might not have to be layoffs this year.

Unfortunately, there is still too much uncertainty in the state budget picture, not to mention the looming prospect of sequestration in the Federal budget–threatening almost $4 million in cuts to district resources next year– to eliminate layoffs entirely for 2013-14.  In addition, the district’s School Improvement Grant (SIG)  is ending this year, meaning we lose $15 million in annual funding we have received each of the last three years. Other categorical funding grants are ending as well.  Finally, the Board continues to push the Superintendent to fully align our budget with the ongoing priorities in our strategic plan, especially taking into account the lessons we have learned with SIG (e.g., the value of the community schools approach, on-the-job coaching and professional development, and family engagement).  Realignment in an environment where resources are still scarce means tough decisions about program needs across the district.

It’s perhaps overly sunny to call it good news, but there are fewer staff getting notices this year than at any time since I took office in January 2009; 191 fewer certificated staff than last year. No multiple-subject (elementary school) teachers were noticed this year.  With that, here are the numbers:

Staff receiving preliminary layoff notices for the 2013-14 school year (FTE):

Pre-K-12 Certificated (teachers, social workers, counselors, nurses)– 118

Early Education Department teachers– 10

Administrators– 24

Paraprofessionals–43

In addition, the Board also voted to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation to “non-re-elect” 33 teachers across the district who would otherwise have been granted tenure if they were employed by the district in the 2013-14 school year. This is a very difficult decision, because by definition, a non-re-election of a probationary teacher can be made without any specific cause. A probationary teacher can (and many do) receive satisfactory evaluations and still not be re-elected, simply because the administrator supervising them does not feel it is a good enough fit to grant them tenure status.

The very difficult part for me  tonight was that 14 of the 33 were special education teachers — a job that is one of the toughest across the district, and of course a credential area that is perennially in demand. Being a new special education teacher is exceptionally difficult, and without adequate support it is more than likely a teacher will fail in some area or another. So the failure to “find a fit” is perhaps a greater failure of the district’s rather than the individual teacher; still, it is important to back up our administrators when they make the very tough calls we have been telling them they must make in order to continue putting student learning above all else.

Teachers who have been non-re-elected can opt to resign at the end of the year in order to avoid having “non-re-elected” appear in their employee file, and can apply for any future opportunity with the school district.

In the news:  Did you know SFUSD has the highest percentage of teachers who have attained National Board Certified status of any district in California? That’s right — 231, or about six percent of 3,600 teachers across the district–have now attained the prestigious (and rigorous to attain) professional designation.  The newest batch of teachers who have achieved this status in 2012-13 will be honored at the March 12 Board meeting.

We aim to please: A commenter recently asked for a copy of the bedrock principles of inclusion that were submitted as a proposed Board policy recently. Here they are.

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4 responses to “Recap: February 26, 2013

  1. Thank you for providing a copy of the bedrock principals of inclusion. They are timely, wonderfully written, and succinct. I hope that the District continues to build on the foundation laid by Cecelia Dodge, and I hope that ALL teachers, administrators, and parents believe in these principles and lead by example.

  2. Sandy Coleman

    I attended the meeting on Tuesday night and spoke on behalf of one of the 14 Special Education teachers that is going to lose her job. I am sick to my stomach about this. In your blog it concerns me as to why a teacher, even with a satisfactory evaluation can lose her job. You are correct, it is a hard job, one that many teachers do not want nor can handle! This particular teacher, Suzy Coleman at Leonard Flynn Elementary deserves to keep her job. Letting her go would derail any structure she has provided for her students. Children need the stability and reassurance of knowing their teacher will be there for them. The district is basically pulling the rug from underneath these kids. These children already struggle with their various behaviorial/emotional/social issues and this further adds to their suffering!
    This makes public education look bad!

  3. Adrienne Smith

    Nice to see you can sleep at night knowing you just laid off special-ed teachers and a slew of teachers in the Zone Schools, keep perpetuating racism, classism, and exclusion. You are doing a wonderful job of continuing to tear apart public education. Job well done!

  4. Don’t miss tomorrow night’s meeting:
    COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION
    http://www.cacspedsf.org
    Thursday, February 28, 2013
    1663 Mission Street, 7th floor.
    Street parking is available on Mission Street and nearby streets. To be admitted to the building after hours, press #70 on the keypad at the front door, ask to be let in, and the door will be released.

    AGENDA

    5:45 pm Special Education supervisors will be available for a group
    Open Forum/Coffee Chat from 5:45pm until the meeting starts at 6:30.

    6:30 pm CALL TO ORDER /INTRODUCTIONS/PUBLIC COMMENT

    6:50 pm PROGRAM:
    The State of Inclusion in SFUSD
    What’s working? What would make things work better?

    7:30 pm APPROVAL OF MINUTES: January 24, 2013
    SFUSD REPORT
    CAC BOARD REPORT
    UPDATES: Members convey concerns they’ve heard about and recent developments pertaining to:
    SEIS IEP Software
    IEP Meetings
    Enrollment
    Special Education Staffing
    Special Education Related Services

    ANNOUNCEMENTS/
    ADDITIONAL PUBLIC COMMENT

    8:00 pm Meeting adjourns (informal networking until 8:25 pm, Doors close at 8:30)

    “LIKE” the CAC on FaceBook! Community Advisory Committee for Special Education for SFUSD

    The State Education Code mandates that each Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) must have a Community Advisory Committee (CAC). The purpose of the CAC is to advocate for effective Special Education programs and services, and advise the Board of Education on priorities in the SELPA. State law requires that a majority of CAC members be parents. Joining the CAC gives you an opportunity to have your opinions heard and make a difference in the way Special Education is conducted in your area.
    In San Francisco, CAC meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month (except July, November and December). CAC meetings are from 6:30 pm – 8:o0 p.m, with 45 minutes before the meeting to chat with Special Education Department Administrators and 25 minutes after the meeting for informal networking. These meetings are open to the public; everyone is welcome to attend.
    CHILDCARE and INTERPRETATION are provided ONLY if reserved IN ADVANCE.
    TO RESERVE THESE SERVICES, PLEASE CALL 415-920-5040.
    Please refrain from wearing scented products when attending SF CAC meetings.