39 Teachers Getting Pink Slips

Tuesday night's school board action came after teachers and students picketed outside San Leandro High.


On Tuesday night the San Leandro School Board voted to send pink slips to 39 teachers as part of its contingency plan to deal with a budget shortfall that could occur next year if state voters fail to approve new taxes in November.

A few hours before the board vote, San Leandro High School to demand that our school district -- like those in Hayward, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley and Oakland -- balance its budget without more teacher cuts.

School board member Mike Katz said that wasn't possible given our district's financial picture. He said Tuesday night's vote was unanimous but reluctant.

The layoffs ordered Tuesday could be rescinded under a couple of different scenarios that depend on the outcome of contract negotiations between the school district and the San Leandro Teachers Association.

The school board wants SLTA to extend givebacks in compensation and permit the administration to cut the school year by five days if the state reduces funding to the district.

The union argues that the school district has enough money in reserve to make sure its budget remains balanced next year, even in the event of a state funding pullback, without the threatened layoffs.

"We are already the lowest paid teachers in Alameda County with no raises for 5 years," SLTA president Jon Sherr said at Tuesday's rally.

He said the union was not fighting for pay hikes but for programs to improve education, such as keeping class sizes from increasing as a result of layoffs.

Sherr said student-teacher ratios were 20-1 about four years ago. They could rise to 32-1 next year under the board's contingency plan.

"Imagine that in just three or four years," he said.

It is possible that the state will revise its budget projections in a way that would increase revenues for San Leandro and allow the board to revoke some of the layoffs, Katz said.

May 15th is an important date.

The board would have to rescind the layoff notices by then in order for the affected teachers to be certain they will have jobs in San Leandro next year.

Sherr said Tuesday that the SLTA would be "collaborative and cooperative like we have been in the past."

School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose told Patch that she was "positive that we are going to come to a positive agreement."

But right now union and school board negotiators are not slated to meet until May 16th, although they could move the date up if a deal seemed possible.

Even if the date for canceling the layoffs passes, the affected teachers would still have first dibs on getting rehired if the district's financial picture improved as a result of a labor deal and/or a better funding outlook from the state.

But for now the teachers getting pink slipped face anxiety and the district faces the prospect that valued educators may seek jobs elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in Castro Valley, teachers and administrators have that includes, among other things, a provision to retain a 25-1 student-teacher ratio in grades K-3.

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Marga Lacabe May 03, 2012 at 02:13 AM
I think the School Board needs to make their case to the community as to why, exactly, they don't want to use the reserves for next year. They may have discussed this in School Board meetings, but most of the community doesn't attend those meetings. Indeed, parents of children in the district, by definition, have school age children, so weekday meetings that go on until midnight are not practical for them to attend. A letter to the newspaper, or an article on the Patch, would go a long way to explaining why exactly they do not use the reserves. And saying "this will put our budget under state control for a while", is not enough of an answer. Apparently other districts have gone through this process, and they've been able to come out from it actually saving money.
David May 03, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Probably because the unions want to retain control. If the state steps in, it steps on the union. Poor unions. (sarcasm)
Fran May 03, 2012 at 03:17 AM
It sounds like the union wants to utilize the reserves, or am I missing something?
David May 03, 2012 at 12:28 PM
yep. Like they do everywhere, they'll soak up the reserves, then when they're gone, they'll demand another tax increase.
Thomas Clarke May 03, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Marga, the school board is made up of cowards. They purport to represent the public but the whole bunch of them is afraid to stand up and speak their mind. You should stand up and tell all about what you know about why Mike either will not speak the truth or why he will not tell you the truth. Or perhaps he does not want to actually committ. That in itself is telling. Anyone who expects the present SLUSD Board to tell the truth is naive at best. They are unwilling to demand the change needed to do what the community wants and can afford.
Robo Eng May 03, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Does SL really have the lowest paid teachers in Alameda County? How can this be verified? And if it's true, how is this possible in our relatively prosperous city? Who has responsibility for the school district's finances, and what oversight is there for building and executing the budget? Like every enterprise, it is very likely that there are some opportunities for reengineering processes, reducing overhead, paring waste and improving budget execution.
Richard Mellor May 03, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I don't believe it's an issue of cowardice. The problem is that that most of these local politicians, just like the top Union officials, have a certain view of the world and it is that the so called free market is the answer to all things. Therefore, when it goes in to crisis they have to adapt to that. We hear all the time that the post office is losing money. No it isn't, it's a public service. It is simply returning in the form of a social service the wealth we create through Labor. But public funds crowd out the private sector and the opportunity for profit. Everything is a commodity to them, as is food. If you can't afford to buy it, it is not produced and you do starve. The alternative is to build a mass movement that can drive back this offensive of the bankers, hedge fund managers and other wasters but these politicians and the Labor tops do not have this perspective. Their view is it can only lead to chaos as the anger that exists in society will take organizational form and people will demand from them what they believe the system cannot give.
Richard Mellor May 03, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Christopher Hill in his excellent history of the English revolution called it a "stop in the mind". The dominant ideology in feudalism was the "Divine Right of Kings" Well who thought that up? Not the peasant. The landed gentry wanted more say, more freedom if you like. They were heroic figures like Bunyan. But they couldn't get over their own belief that the King was king by god's will. Cromwell suggested they cut off his head and see what happens. Presto, a new day. We have to overcome our own belief that the market is god.
Richard Mellor May 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Bunyan was a religious dissenter not a landowner of poltician. he spent 11 years in Jail for his beliefs. He was not a coward so ithat is not an issue.
Marga Lacabe May 03, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Yeah, David, but if they use the reserves, then the state takes control - which doesn't jive with your statement that the unions want to retain the control.
Marga Lacabe May 03, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Richard, thank you so much for illustrating another point that I make all the time: math & English are not enough. We need our kids to study history. Our understanding of the world - whatever our ideology - becomes so much richer once we have an idea of what came before us.
Marga Lacabe May 03, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Thomas, Mike and I rarely talk about the schools. As you can expect, given my all in all limited writing on the subject, the results of these conversations are not good for our marriage. He did try to explain to me why they are not using the reserves, but I could not understand his explanation. He said he'll put it in writing.
David May 03, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Marga, they anticipate that as they're draining the reserves, they can repeatedly sound the alarm the schools are running out of money until they get SL residents to vote in another tax hike.
David May 03, 2012 at 11:09 PM
mallach Cromwell ort.
Ken Briggs May 03, 2012 at 11:34 PM
so if you let 39 or so teachers go , then that means you should let some board members go also . after all they do take money for wages so save some money and let some board members go also .so be vfair about this .
Tom Abate (Editor) May 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Thanks for a very good discussion.
Tom Abate (Editor) May 04, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Oh, and there are some ideas here for me to follow up on which I will.


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