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As you know, on May 22nd, the School Board will vote on whether or not to lay off over 1,600 certificated staff members – including me – in order to receive a qualified balanced budget for the County Office of Education. This rating is needed in order for the district to be able to borrow money at favorable interest rates over the next year. In other words, our jobs are the district’s lynchpin in securing a balanced budget. And, once the qualified rating is granted, the district begins the process of recalling the layoffs, in order to have schools ready to function by the beginning of the school year. It’s an annual roller coaster ride that creates tension, anguish, and animosity between the certificated staff and the school district…
…an animosity that is reflected in the dialogue that annually permeates this site’s articles and discussion boards. Some argue that we’re paid too much already and should give up more, “for the good of the children.” Others opine that our salaries should be commiserate with the low test scores and state rankings. A few believe that we should fire everyone and privatize schools with vouchers, because that will solve everything. Many think we’re just whining. Thankfully, some recognize the good work we do for the children of San Diego, and are willing to say so. To you, I say, You’re Welcome.
I don’t know about you, but being told, year after depressing year, that my job is on the line, and that I could keep it if only I gave back to my employer, is disheartening at the least…disappointing to be sure…and does a disservice in the big picture. But, we continue to stay in San Diego, teaching your children…because we love what we do. Of course, we also expect to be paid a living wage to do so. And, as some have said, that doesn’t mean we’re not here “for the good of the children.” I understand that one cannot get blood from a turnip…but please stop asking the teachers and classified staff to keep taking one for the team.
Also, this year – as in the previous year – the district has not been completely honest in their dealings with the teachers and classified members. Last year, it was discovered that the district was crying about empty pockets, when in fact they had several millions in reserve. In the past few years, they continue to have a higher-than-projected ending balance in their coffers. And now, at this year’s hearings, it was discovered that the district intentionally issued approximately 500 layoff notices over what they actually needed. With a record of such dishonesty, is it any wonder that I am leery of giving them my trust?
Should the layoffs go through, and last throughout the summer, there are several things that you will see when school begins in September: 30 students in a kindergarten classroom; 40+ in a middle-school classroom; fewer to no GATE programs; nurses assigned to several sites; fewer counselors assigned to sites; shortened office times; unclean school sites; unsafe classroom situations.
If that is unacceptable to you, then make your voice heard. Contact your school board members and tell them to find another way. Tell them to show good faith by reducing the layoffs by the 500 people they didn’t need to layoff. Tell them to fight back in Sacramento and challenge the Governor to properly fund education in our state. You can find their contact information at www.sandi.net
Then, take time to contact your child’s teacher and tell them how much you appreciate what they do for you. Tell that teacher that you support them. Give them a moment’s respite in this otherwise dark time for education in San Diego.