schools.jpgSan Francisco’s teachers union is planning a rally this evening to protest hundreds of layoff notices that were distributed to teachers around the city on Monday.

Organizers with United Educators of San Francisco, which represents more than 6,000 San Francisco Unified School District employees, plan to protest outside today’s board of education meeting in response to the 544 layoff notices that were sent out.

The notices are in response to the district’s deficit, which could be as high as $119.4 million over the next two years if a tax proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown fails.

In addition to protesting the number of pink slips, the teachers union is taking issue with the method the district is using to select the teachers who receive them, union spokesman Matthew Hardy said.

The board of education voted on Feb. 28 to issue the layoff notices, but excluded teachers from 14 schools in a zone that includes low-income neighborhoods in the city’s Bayview and Mission districts, saying those schools are most in need of stability from year to year.

In the past, layoff decisions in the district have generally been based on seniority.
The decision by the board to approach layoffs differently “demoralized a lot of people,” Hardy said. “We don’t want layoffs, but if they happen, we think it should happen fairly, and not make winners and losers.”

The number of actual layoffs will be finalized by May 15, and could be significantly lower than 544 with the infusion of money from the city’s rainy day fund.

Mayor Ed Lee said today that the district will receive a little more than $6 million from that fund.

Lee said he supports the district’s decision to exclude certain teachers from being eyed for layoffs.

“I get it when you have struggling schools,” he said. “I don’t blame them for having to make those decisions given the cuts they’re facing.”

Speaking at his monthly mandated appearance in front of the city’s Board of Supervisors this afternoon, Lee also said he is considering many other options for how to improve the city’s schools, including raising funds from district-owned property that is currently going unused.

“If you want to provide the resources necessary to strengthen our schools, you have to explore all options.”

The rally by the teachers is planned for 5 p.m. today outside of the board of education’s meeting room at 555 Franklin St. prior to the board’s 6 p.m. meeting.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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