schools.jpgSan Francisco teachers upset about proposed changes to the school district’s Advanced Placement program are speaking out against what they call a “reckless attempt” by the district to save money, a union spokesman said.

The proposal would take away a preparation period for AP teachers and replace it with a class, according to Tom Ruiz, the San Francisco Unified School District’s senior executive director for labor relations.

If the change is approved, AP teachers would teach five classes instead of four–the same number of classes as non-AP teachers, Ruiz said.

As compensation for the switch, AP teachers would be given a $1,000 stipend, Ruiz said.

The change would save the district $1.5 million per year and reduce the number of necessary layoffs.

There would be no reduction in the number of AP courses offered, Ruiz said.

California Teachers Association spokesman Mike Myslinski said the change would “harm the college future of thousands of San Francisco students.”

“AP courses are critical in giving students a better chance to succeed in college,” Myslinski said.

The prep periods allow teachers to plan their courses and work with students who may be struggling, said Matthew Hardy, spokesman for the United Educators of San Francisco, the union representing San Francisco teachers.

Longtime Lowell High School AP teacher Ken Tray said cutting the prep period would mean fewer students would pass the advanced placement exams.

“The first rule of medicine is do no harm,” Tray said. “Well, this is bad medicine for our students and our storied program.”

Labor negotiations between the district and UESF have reached a stalemate and the district declared an impasse last Thursday, asking for the union to join it in the declaration, Ruiz said.

Had the union agreed to declare an impasse, the state would have assigned a neutral third party to mediate between the groups. However, UESF declined, and plans to hold a strike authorization vote on Thursday.

“It’s the first step toward a possible strike,” Myslinski said.

“This is a pivotal week for public education in San Francisco.”

Ruiz called the strike vote “unfortunate.”

“It’s premature,” he said.

The union is in the final year of a two-year contract that expires on July 1.

Teachers planned to hold a noon news conference at Lowell High School to speak out against the proposal to cut the AP teachers’ prep period.

Zack Farmer, Bay City News

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