Monday, October 12, 2009

John de Beck tells it like it is: SDUSD board screwed up by keeping surplus teachers and raising class size

The funding problem with schools

By John de Beck

...Last year the board decided not to lay off teachers, and about 185 remained on the payroll, despite the fact they did not have teaching stations or children. (I will use the term, “surplus teachers” to identify these people.)

In addition the district used savings that increasing class size would provide (reducing the number of teachers needed), to balance our “tentative” 2009-10 budget.

So we had two conflicting problems and solutions. One was (to realize any savings) that any remaining surplus teachers would have to be placed in already budgeted positions (some of which were cut to save money this year) and the board decided to offer these teachers jobs and training in special education so they could fit into jobs that were budgeted, needed, and unfilled. Others were going to be used for substitutes, and other unfilled jobs that would come from special funded projects. The second was that we would have other unassigned teachers caused by the class size increase.

The board seemed to forget (or was not told) that the problem was that increasing class sizes would add to the need to find places for people and that the class size savings we used to balance our budget were on paper, and not real unless all surplus teachers got assignments that were already in the budget.

Principals were told to implement class size increases for this year and when enrollments showed a decline (or were flat) in September at Ocean Beach, Normal Heights and other schools, they just followed directions and reduced staff according to contract and district rules. The result was that they have had to let teachers go into the pool of surplus teachers (increasing the total) and had to use the remaining staff according to the staffing formulas they were given. They had no choice but to reorganize their schools and that caused them to use techniques like combination classes, to meet their official staffing ratios....

Maura Larkins comment:

It’s a wonder the great Terry Grier didn’t point this out to the board. Or maybe he did, but either way, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this plan wouldn’t work. The board calculated that it had to keep the surplus teachers to please the teachers union (Democrats), and to raise class size so it would appear that it was dealing with the budget crisis (Republicans). The board seems to care only about pleasing the politically powerful, and is so lacking in courage that it wouldn’t fess up about what it had done before school started, when the current debacle could easily have been prevented. Why can’t we elect board members with the courage to put kids first?

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