I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

23 February 2011

Optics Ho!

In general, I think that SFUSD doesn't get optics.  Not the kind involving the eyes, but the kind covering the public reaction to issues - "how it looks in the press", if you will.  For instance, catering Board meetings might be inexpensive in comparison to the overall budget.  It might even be good policy.  It looks really bad when you have laid off teachers, increased class sizes and demanded contract concessions.

Similarly, one could argue that the salaries paid to Central Office employees keep them in the public sector and are in line with other local school districts.  But when you put them on a list and compare that list to school site professionals' salaries, those arguments look weak.

Still, one area where the District gets it right is their annual meeting to send potential no-contract letters to their highest-paid employees.  They always manage to do this before laying off teachers and will make sure that all District officials solemnly announce the number of Assistant Superintendents, Executive Directors and so on who may not be employed next year when being forced to discuss teacher layoffs.

Pressed on the issue, the District will admit that they have no intention of actually letting these people go (or at least they never have before).  So the purpose is at least partially cosmetic.

I am trying to decide if it is worth the effort to organize a big site visit to next week's Board meeting, since our school will undoubtedly be at or near the top of several lists (Most Teacher Layoffs at a Site by Number!  And Also By Percentage of Classroom Staff!  And Most Heavily Impacted High-Needs Site!).  Doing so means organizing around a depressing and futile topic - it's not like the Board will decline to send the letters, even though the 15 March deadline is not the iron-bound Unbreakable Vow they often claim it is - and too many of the District officials have a bad habit of texting or talking while public comment is being made.  That kind of rudeness makes for grumpy.

Additionally, it would take away valuable time from watching this over and over and over.  Presently my only personal concern around layoffs boils down to how badly my New York pin money would be decimated if I am not under contract come early June.  No job means I probably can't buy any really good souvenirs (by which I mean "dresses purchased at certain retail outlets", not "exhibit catalogs or other such fripperies sold at the Met").

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