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Bay Area teachers feel the wrath of pink slips

March 15, 2010 6:35:55 PM PDT
School districts around the Bay Area are sending layoff notices to thousands of school teachers. San Francisco Unified is handing out the most pink slips in the Bay Area and that also includes administrators. All the safety nets are no longer there, so all of the layoffs are about to become permanent.

Brittany Erickson and Stuart Jernigan are teachers in San Francisco and they knew ther pink slips were in the mail.

"This is actually my third. So out of three years I've gotten three pink slips. It's difficult," Jernigan said.

In the past, their layoff notices were rescinded, but this time they may stick. That's because San Francisco schools will not be able to count on the city's rainy day fund or any stimulus money.

"We knew this day would come and our day has come. Other districts have been starting this process of cutting back things several years ago. We're actually Johnny-come-lately to this game, we're just starting to do it and it is huge cuts," Superintendant Carlos Garcia said.

It's nearly $113 million in cuts over two years.

Laying off 900 teachers and administrators is just the beginning. The district is also proposing furloughs days -- two to four a year.

"I already struggle to fit everything in a very short year and get all the material that we need to cover, so with two or three or four less days, that's days the kids aren't learning," Erickson said.

"It's never good to reduce instructional time. I think as opposed to laying off staff, it may be a better option," Jernigan said.

That's how San Jose Unified is dealing with its deficit. Not a single teacher will be laid off because teachers agreed to five furlough days. So instead of having 180 days with the kids in the classroom, they will have 175.

Without the four furlough days, San Francisco says it would have to increase class sizes. It's something the district is negotiating with the teachers union.

"It's not possible to give as much individual attention to each student when you have more students. The arithmetic to that just won't add up. So it is another great concern as I am sure it is to parents," Susan Solomon from United Educators of San Francisco said.

Matt Livingston is a principal. His main critique is while other countries have a longer school year, we are cutting ours.

"And it's going to be much more challenging for American students, not just San Francisco students to be able to compete for this jobs," he said.

Negotiations between the San Francisco Unified School District and the union will resume on Tuesday.

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