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UPDATE: Embattled San Francisco School Board Approves Contentious Teacher Layoff Plans

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Just weeks after three members were overwhelmingly recalled by San Francisco voters, the SFUSD board voted Tuesday night to potentially layoff nearly 300 staffers including 151 teachers, counselor and social workers.

While needed, SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews called the threat of layoffs deflating.

"While a shared understanding of our budget realities and how the education code works is valuable, at the end of the day, I know from personal experience that this whole process leaves us weary and deflated," Matthews said. "A layoff notice is not the same as an actual layoff and hopefully most employees who receive a March 15 notice will not be given a final notice. Nonetheless, I recognize that this time can be stressful and feel uncertain."

United Educators of San Francisco President Cassondra Curiel called the layoffs unnecessary.

"There is no financial reason to get rid of these vital educators, who provide essential instruction, services, and programs to students and their families," Curiel said. "The district has the money for their salaries; it's disingenuous to say otherwise. And there is major state funding on the way for our all-important community schools. Educators and families have been actively campaigning against these layoffs since they were announced."

It was the first major vote since SFUSD President Gabriela Lopez and board members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga were recalled by voters in a special election on Feb. 15.

Moliga has already stepped down. Lopez and Collins will be removed from office on March 11.

The potential layoffs come as the district faces tough choices because of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls for this year and projected for the 2022-2023 and is under the watchful eyes of a state appointed fiscal expert. Since 2014, the district has lost 9,000 students leading to a decline in state funding.

"These notices, which reflect 254 full-time positions, are preliminary and not every employee who receives a notice will be laid off," the board said in a news release. "Final notice of employee layoffs or administrative reassignments must be given by May 15 for teachers and June 30 for administrative reassignments and layoffs."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the layoff notices will go out by March 15 to 151 teachers, counselor and social workers, as well as 51 top-level managers and 62 other staffers.

The board did vote 4-2 to spare 47 teacher aides from the layoffs. It also agreed to no more than a 3% reduction of credentialed staff represented by the United Educators of San Francisco and up to a 31% reduction of unrepresented management positions.

Yajaira Cuapio, a school social worker, said she was confounded by the decision to lay off social workers like herself.

"In our school district, we've always had a full load of students who need social and emotional assistance," Cuapio said. "But since the pandemic, the need for social workers has been even greater than ever. We need more—not fewer—social workers and counselors. I don't understand the priorities of the district."

During the same meeting, the board also approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union running through June 30, 2023.

In a news release, the board said the agreement "creates recruitment and retention incentives for educators and will help stabilize staffing at SFUSD. Per the agreement."

Under the agreement, teachers will get up to $10,000 in bonuses, including a guaranteed $2,000 stipend for every teacher. Funds to cover the bonuses will largely come from monies raised under the Proposition G parcel tax.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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