The majority of teachers in San Francisco spend five periods in a classroom and one so-called "prep time," but someone teaching an advanced placement, or AP course, has only four periods and two hours of prep time. The district now wants to eliminate that extra hour. "The reason for the second prep is to be able to, again, in my case I'm a science teacher, set up laboratories, grade essays, and work with students who need help," said Lowell High School teacher Kathy Melvin. However, while she's on that second prep period, another teacher takes her place in the classroom, and that costs money.
The district says eliminating that extra prep hour will save $1.5 million. "We have to hire more teachers, so we have 145 AP teachers and so with each of them having a prep, it's the equivalent of 24 additional teachers," explained the school district's Tom Ruiz. These teachers say because the courses are so academically demanding, they need extra preparation time.
Students at Lowell High School in San Francisco will take more than 3,000 AP exams over the next two weeks. AP courses give students the chance to bypass these classes in college. "By having credits ready and especially in this budget crisis where tuition hikes are sky high, AP [courses] are a good way for students with low income to really get a step up," said student Shin San.
The district is now offering teachers a $1,000 stipend for their extra time. "We're not in it for the money. To increase our salary by $1,000 and increase our work load by 20 percent is insulting," teacher Richard Shaprio told ABC7 News.
But the district says it doesn't have enough money to cover everything. "Like any family's budget, when it gets tight and you have to cut, you have to start going through the different items," said Ruiz.
A strike vote is scheduled for all San Francisco teachers this Thursday.