Sure, the budget situation is bad: that's annual, too. But SFUSD has very limited ideas on how to balance their budget in lean times, and all of those ideas come down to lay off school site personnel. It's true, as noted in the article, that employees are the biggest cash outlay in a district's budget. But it's also true that SFUSD has done nothing to streamline those human resource costs so that school site personnel are prioritized. Nor has there been any interest among management types for sharing the pain, even if symbolically.
So here's my list of good faith optics and actual cash savings SFUSD could consider this year.
- At least follow legal procedure in notifying district office personnel of possible layoffs. SFUSD likes to tell the media about all the central office staff they're possibly laying off. Yet last year, SFUSD did not even bother to notify these personnel of looming layoffs, thereby making it illegal for SFUSD to lay them off in the end. There was no actual intent to even pretend to cut central office staff. SFUSD owes the teachers it's laying off better than that.
- Cut Central Office staff. SFUSD has a wide range of claims about the lean meanness of its central staffing, but it's not really that impressive. Sure, the district probably has fewer central office staff than the average district proportionately. But SFUSD is a huge district - it should have far fewer staff than a smaller one, simply because all districts need certain personnel regardless of size (it doesn't matter if you have two schools or two hundred: you need a Superintendent, a Human Resources Director, etc.).
- Trim at the Top. The Superintendent makes about seven times my salary and takes as many furlough days as I do. He should take more. It's not fair that the average teacher - notoriously low paid - is losing a bigger percentage of salary than our leadership is.
- Top Brass Should Share the Pain. All SFUSD upper management should take a pay cut. If the Superintendent and the Associate Superintendent took a 10% cut each, they've just saved one teacher job. These folks are well-compensated; they've also avoided the real financial pain that their cuts have inflicted on school sites. It's time to show solidarity with their employees.
- Little Cuts Don't Save Much Cash, but Build Good Will. It's time to cut travel expenses at the district office. The Board shouldn't be getting reimbursed for babysitting or fed at their meetings (I believe the former's already been cut, but not the latter). Wait a year before upgrading or replacing the technology provided to out-of-classroom personnel. Make do with fewer post-its in the Legal Office. It's not a lot of money, but these are things school sites gave up years ago. There is no reason for our leadership not to do the same.