San Diego Unified is drafting policies on whether — and how — parent groups and other foundations can pay for teachers and other employees at schools. The issue has come up more often as budgets decline and parents dig into their own pockets to plug the gaps, as we wrote in the fall. While schools welcome extra money in a budget pinch, paying for employees poses legal and practical questions because teachers gain tenure after several years, giving them a right to a job that San Diego Unified is financially responsible for if the donations disappear. It also raises the specter of outside groups paying to replace unionized employees with less expensive workers, and there are questions as to whether it is equitable.

Parents turned out in force to the Tuesday night board meeting, fearing that the school board was going to vote to ban foundations from paying for teachers. One child spoke up too. “We need to keep our programs,” said Lianna Treitler, a 2nd grader at Kumeyaay Elementary School. “And if you take them away my mom and dad say they will send me to private school.”

Instead, the board ultimately voted unanimously to direct staffers to start putting together policies on the issue, with input from foundations. There was no specific direction on what those rules should be, but school board members stressed that the new policies shouldn’t discourage parents from donating.

“I really don’t want to kill the golden goose here,” school board member Katherine Nakamura said.


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