thumb_school_bus(1).jpgA coalition of teacher groups and students rallied this morning in downtown San Francisco to protest the 900 preliminary layoff notices that the school district issued this week.

United Educators of San Francisco spokesman Matthew Hardy, who helped organize the event with the same group that organized the March 4 rallies, said that the rally featured a wide range of student and teacher speakers.

Megan Caluza, one of the speakers at the event and a special education teacher at El Dorado Elementary School, said that 11 of the 15 teachers at her school received pink slips.

“If someone told me it was going to be like this two years ago when I was first becoming a teacher, I probably would have run screaming,” she said.

District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe confirmed that the district issued 31 notices to administrators and 670 to teachers, counselors, nurses and social workers, for a total of 701 notices issued as a direct result of the budget crisis. The district also handed out notices to an additional 205 employees, but those were unrelated to the budget, she said.

Blythe said that the layoff notices are not going to be finalized until May 15. She added that school districts are required by state law to inform employees by March 15 about whether they will have jobs at the end of the school year.

“We have to notify more people than we hope to give the final notices to,” shesaid.

The notices were distributed to employees based on seniority and credential area, according to Blythe.

Caluza explained that if all of the layoffs at her school are finalized, the district will “bump” credentialed teachers with more seniority to replace those positions, even if they are currently working outside of the classroom in an administrative position or otherwise.

“It’s like playing musical chairs with teachers,” she said.

The district will spend the next two months in negotiations with various education unions to discuss budget measures that might help save jobs, Blythe said. Possible measures include increasing the number of furlough days or cutting the number of teacher sabbaticals for the next two years.

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