SF Board of Education to Vote on Staff Reductions as Part of Budget Balancing Plan on March 1
San Francisco (February 24, 2022) - The San Francisco Board of Education will vote on the number of San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) staff positions that will receive preliminary layoff notices at a special meeting on Tuesday, March 1.
Per the California Education Code, the district is required to send out notices of layoff on or before March 15, 2022 for certain employee groups, including teachers. These notices, which reflect 301 full-time positions, are preliminary and not every employee who receives a notice will be laid off. Final notice of employee layoffs or administrative reassignments must be given by May 15 for teachers and June 30 for administrative reassignments and layoffs.
SFUSD is experiencing a structural deficit –– even before the pandemic the district’s expenditures exceeded its revenue. Contributing factors include decreased student enrollment, which deepens the deficit due to revenue loss; and rising financial obligations associated with staff pensions, among other expenses.
“Student enrollment has declined in SFUSD and across the state in the past several years and overall expenses are growing much faster than our revenue sources. The majority of our staff work directly with students in schools. Given the size of our structural deficit it is inevitable that there will need to be layoffs to those who work with students in addition to those who are in supporting roles outside of classrooms,” said Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews. “Many of the employees who will receive preliminary layoff notices have worked tirelessly for SFUSD’s students and families, before and throughout this pandemic. At the end of the day, I know from personal experience that this whole process leaves us weary and deflated. This is an added stressor in the midst of what is already a stressful time for our staff and school communities.”
The district currently has a “qualified” fiscal certification with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a status which is assigned when a school district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years. To address these fiscal concerns, on Dec. 14, 2021, the SF Board of Education adopted a multi-year budget balancing plan which includes significant reductions in its workforce. Failure to faithfully implement that budget balancing plan could result in a negative fiscal certification and ultimately in substantial loss of local control over the district’s educational programs and priorities.
In addressing the budget forecast, SFUSD has sought to soften the impact on schools, including making reductions to Central administration in the last few years and seeking additional funding sources. However, current projections show estimated deficits of approximately $125 million for the district’s next fiscal year, 2022-23, and a potential deficit of as much as $140 million during fiscal year 2023-24.
To meet its fiscal obligations, the district has determined that it will be necessary to reduce or discontinue certain kinds of services within the district at the end of the 2021-22 school year. As a result of this reduction or discontinuation in particular kinds of services, it will be necessary at the end of the 2021-22 school year to terminate the employment of some district employees.
On March 1, the SF Board of Education will be asked to consider approving no more than a 3% reduction of credentialed staff represented by the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), no more than 3% reduction of classified staff in UESF, and up to a 31% reduction of unrepresented management positions.
In January, SFUSD Human Resources (HR) identified the employees who may be impacted in a layoff, as determined by seniority. On Jan. 28, the Chief of HR emailed all of those potentially impacted employees. It was not an official layoff notice, but rather an effort to give them as much advance notice as possible that they may be impacted so that they would know to consult with SFUSD HR or their union for support. SFUSD HR has also held information sessions for potentially impacted employees.
SFUSD is offering early retirement and resignation notification incentives in hopes of identifying vacancies that can be filled by existing staff whose positions are being impacted by layoffs. The district anticipates that the number of proposed layoffs will decrease throughout the spring.
Vote rescheduled from February 22 Board of Education meeting
The Board of Education was scheduled to vote Tuesday, Feb. 22 on the number of staff positions that will receive preliminary layoff notices. At 6:30 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 22 the Board of Education adjourned its regular meeting in progress once it was notified that the Board’s agenda was not properly noticed.
The agenda was made available on the online platform Board Docs, but was not linked from the SFUSD website as required by district policy and California law.
The items on the Feb. 22 agenda will be re-noticed on a special meeting agenda commencing at 3:00 pm on Thursday, Feb. 24 and another special meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1.
The meeting on Feb. 24 will cover three items that need to be presented to the Board before March 1: two options to lease connected with the teacher housing project and an update on SFUSD's LCAP. The remaining items on the agenda for Feb. 22, including proposed reductions to particular kinds of service and the tentative agreement with UESF and SFUSD, will be moved to a special meeting to be held on Tuesday, March 1 at 5:00 p.m.
Board leadership requested to reschedule the majority of the regular meeting's agenda to Tuesday, March 1 in order to honor a previously scheduled standing meeting of the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education.
The SFUSD Board of Education Office is responsible for posting the Board of Education agendas online under the direction of the superintendent. SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews apologized for the disruption caused when the Feb. 22 meeting had to adjourn early and said staff met following the meeting's adjournment and are implementing additional safeguards immediately.