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No layoffs for Oakland’s elementary school teachers

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 6:29 pm in budget, elementary schools, teachers.

A Kaiser Elementary kindergartner, shown at a rally in March. Photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News GroupNone of the elementary school teachers who received pink slips last March will lose their jobs (except for those who don’t have the required credential to teach English learners), Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos announced at the beginning of tonight’s Oakland school board meeting.

At least 17 of the 25 music teachers who received pink slips will keep their jobs as well.

“We’re really excited about this and delighted today to present that information to you,” Santos said. (Superintendent Tony Smith is in Washington, D.C.)

Santos said further analysis is required before a similar announcement can be made about other positions, such as middle and high school teachers or counselors. The Oakland school district warned 657 teachers that they were at risk of losing their jobs. That number included 25 music teachers and 267 elementary school teachers.

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  • Darwish

    That’s really good news!! Now, how about the French and Mandarin teachers, the art teachers, the librarians and the credentialed counselors?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Since middle school multi-subject credentialed teachers have the same credential as elementary teachers, that decision must cover them as well. I would expect a considerable reduction in the other categories as soon as the district completes its analysis. I am pleased that the district is making this announcement now instead of waiting until May 15.

  • Zinnia

    And the social workers and psychologists. Let’s keep fighting back…it works!

  • Corigan

    Is this a legitimate statement? I only ask because I have heard no official announcement…

  • Randy Porter

    We knew that only 8 music teachers could be laid off weeks ago. The board resolution that accompanied our pink slips listed only 8 positions, and we received confirmation from the director of human resources that a maximum of 8 music teachers could be laid off legally. At last weeks board meeting, Vernon Hal said a maximum of 4 music teachers would be laid off. Katy – can you confirm the numbers as you heard them? I am that 8 music teachers will not be laid off. The layoff of 8 OUSD music teachers would have a significant negative impact on the district.

  • pink-slipped

    Steven, or anyone else, do you know if it’s true that multiple-subject credentialed middle school teachers are included in the elementary category? Does this mean our pink slips are rescinded as well?
    Not sure as Santos said, “further analysis is required before a similar announcement can be made about other positions, such as middle and high school teachers or counselors.” But wondering if this means middle and high school teachers with single subject credentials?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Lay-offs are done by credential held, not the type of school you are assigned to, so there is no way that a multi-subject credentialed teacher at a middle school can be laid off if a less experienced teacher at an elementary school has their lay-off letter rescinded. I think the statement about middle and high school teachers must refer to those with single subject credentials. (I’m pretty sure I am correct, but if I were pink-slipped I’d want further confirmation, too. Can anyone else help out.)

  • Betty Olson-Jones

    Great news! As far as I know, Steve’s right — we’re meeting with the district Friday to go over the rest of the notices, so hoope to have more answers soon. Thanks to all who:ve come and spoken up at Board meetings — we want ALL layoffs rescinded and non-reelects withdrawn.

  • arcoiris

    Great news! Any word on the status of temporary teachers?

  • Katy Murphy

    Maria Santos said 17 pink slipped music teachers would not be laid off, and OUSD spokesman Troy Flint said eight was the maximum number that would be — there may be fewer.

  • Katy Murphy

    Actually, Steven, someone asked a similar question about multisubject credentials. Santos said that she was strictly talking about K-5 tonight, but it sounds like that might be a strong indication of what’s ahead for others with multisubjects.

    And yes, Corigan, this was an official announcement, made during the superintendent’s report at the board meeting.

  • Katy Murphy

    Not yet, but maybe we’ll know more after the full analysis of the permanent staff comes out.

  • OUSD parent

    If a elementary school is losing a teaching position, what happens to the teacher whose job is being eliminated? If no K-5 teachers are being laid off, will said teacher be assigned elsewhere?

  • Rick

    Our elementary schools have made a great deal of improvement over the last 8 years.

    I think we can do the same thing at the secondary level, however, we need work harder to enhance our student’s academic skill.

    Then, the OUSD families will enroll their children in our schools instead of secondary charters and private schools. It will take more work, however, we can do it.

    If not, we will continue to see more students going to these school and we will get more pink slipps. We can learn alot from the elementary schools.

    Steven and Betty, I think your wrong about the middle school teachers with multi-subject credentials; however, I hope I’m wrong.

  • Starshaped

    The retiree positions should cover most of those whose jobs were cut due to staffing reduction. Unfortunately, that means they’ll have to move to a new school most likely. They’ll get a choice of schools, in theory. It doesn’t always work that way.

  • The real issue

    Every year OUSD sends out pink slips to tons of teachers. This demoralizes students, families, and staff. Every year OUSD rescinds most of these notices and the union gets to swoop in like a hero. They saved your job, “Woohoo!!!” Why can’t they just prevent the pink slips in the first place?

    I know the budget is complex and we have to wait for news from the state, but in all seriousness, if I was paying a heft chunk of my pay check to the union every month, I’d like to see them work on preventing the huge sweep of notices every year.

  • Sonia Thacher

    It’s state law that the pink slips come out by March 15th, which is usually well before the district has enough budget information: they’re still in the machete phase of cuts at that point, transitioning closer to scalpels as the budget picture comes together over time. Because they CANNOT lay off anyone who didn’t get a pink slip once they know more, they always, in a layoff year, send out way more then they use just to be safe. Neither OEA nor the district can fully eliminate the practice: folks who want it changed are encouraged to take it up with the state.

  • Sonia Thacher

    Although, ps it’s not actually the case that this happens on this scale “every year.” This year, on many fronts, is far grimmer than others: the last wave I remember was about 7 years ago.

  • Janan

    Any discussion of school closures last night?

  • Katy Murphy

    No discussion of school closures. It was a short meeting; Smith was in Washington D.C.

  • Ms. G

    At the Budget Q&A on Tuesday night, Dr. Smith addressed school closures– saying that no schools will be closed, but some sites will be (in some way?) consolidated (i.e. Fremont and Castlemont campuses). However, he also mentioned that he thinks OUSD has too many schools. That’s for next year’s budget crisis, I guess…

  • TheTruthHurts

    I’m glad students won’t lose their teachers, but this whole thing makes me wonder how people budget in Oakland. In my house, if 20% of my income is cut, it’s time to cut 20% of spending. Sure, if I expect the income to come back, I can get by on savings for a while (assuming, I’ve been able to save).

    What kind of creative accounting lets Oakland lose more than 20% of their income and not cut 20% of spending? Is their savings account that fat? Do they expect the income to miraculously come back? Do they realize what’s going on in this state? This nation?

    Good luck with that.

  • Piedmont Avenue Elementary Dad

    Honestly, while this makes me happy on one level it makes me incredibly angry that we are even having this discussion. Billionaires are paying the lowest taxes they have paid since Eisenhower was in office and they are still trying to get them lower. It is disgusting to see such a transfer of wealth from the working class and poor to the wealthy allowed to go unchecked. If we even went back to Reagan-era tax levels, made all entitlement programs need-based and cut out wasteful spending in the Department of Defense we would have a balanced federal budget and more than likely a surplus to expand funding for programs to retrain the American workforce to meet the challenges of the changing global economy.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com maestra

    so, the question is where did they get the money and why didn’t they figure this out earlier so that the teachers didn’t have to experience this stress?

  • http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us Troy Flint

    “Lay-offs are done by credential held, not the type of school you are assigned to, so there is no way that a multi-subject credentialed teacher at a middle school can be laid off if a less experienced teacher at an elementary school has their lay-off letter rescinded. I think the statement about middle and high school teachers must refer to those with single subject credentials. (I’m pretty sure I am correct, but if I were pink-slipped I’d want further confirmation, too. Can anyone else help out.)?”

    @Steven – This is a logical conclusion, but differs slightly from what was announced at last night’s school board meeting. Really, the issue turns on a question of language which, admittedly, is not very intuitive and could have been emphasized more.

    Deputy Superintendent Santos announced that OUSD would not send May 15 notices to tenured or probationary teachers in elementary teaching positions. The critical word here is positions. We are confident that staff currently in elementary teaching positions will be spared May 15 notices. This does not necessarily extend to every teacher (or central office employee) with elementary or multiple subject credentials.

    We expect to be in a position to rescind significant numbers of March 15 notices at the middle and high school levels as well, but this process is more complex and there’s less clarity about that at the moment. Staff is working on this more or less continuously and we hope to resolve this uncertainty sooner rather than later. We definitely will not run up to the May 15 deadline.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com maestra

    I’d still like to know why so many received a March 15 letter if many could be rescinded. Couldn’t that have been figured out earlier and saved a lot of people a lot of worry?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Troy, I now understand that the district announcement last night did not cover multi-subject credentialed middle school teachers, but unless my interpretation of the lay-off rules are wrong, it will not be possible for the district to lay-off any multi-subject credentialed teacher who has more seniority than the least senior person retained. Are you suggesting that I am wrong about those rules?

  • Steven Weinberg

    I also want to commend the District Administration and School Board for acting quickly to rescind the pink slips, and I hope that any disagreement about lay-off procedures will end up being moot because all letters will be withdrawn.

  • http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us Troy Flint

    “Troy, I now understand that the district announcement last night did not cover multi-subject credentialed middle school teachers, but unless my interpretation of the lay-off rules are wrong, it will not be possible for the district to lay-off any multi-subject credentialed teacher who has more seniority than the least senior person retained. Are you suggesting that I am wrong about those rules?”

    @Steven – Your interpretation of the rules is correct. In the scenario you raise, OUSD would be obligated to find a place for the multi-subject credentialed teacher with more seniority than the least senior person retained. At this point, although there are no guarantees, we anticipate that there will be enough space at elementary and middle school levels to prevent this from becoming an issue.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Great news. Thank you, Troy.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com maestra

    I feel like I’m repeating myself, but why was this not figured out before and where did the money magically come from?

  • Sue

    @Maestra

    I’m just an OUSD parent, but I’ll give your question my best shot…

    The school district is required, by state law, to send out “pink slips” by March 15. At that early date, they don’t have any real idea of what the next school year’s budget and funding might look like. So, they send out enough pick slips for the worst of all possible situations. If they don’t, and that worst of all possible situations were to happen, then they’re not able to cut the staffing to the levels needed for that worst case they’ve landed in. And the district is financially scr*wed, along with every teacher…

    No money has magically come from anywhere. It’s just that now the district has a better picture than a month ago of what funds they’re going to have next year and what their budget will look like – and it’s not “worst of all possible” budgets, this time, anyway.

    It simply wasn’t possible to know the funding and budgeting situation earlier, unless we’re expecting district officials to consult a crystal ball, or some other sort of fortune telling. I know several really good tarot readers, but I don’t want the district making their financial decisions that way. I doubt anyone else would consider that a good decision-making process either.

    The process, as it exists today under current state law, isn’t good either. It causes a lot of stress, anxiety and disruption. I’ve seen quite a number of good teachers upset because they, or a valued and respected coworker, got one of the notices last month.

    Mr. T, Skyline’s instrumental and band teacher, comes to mind because he was one of the 25 music teachers who was pick-slipped. Many of the performing arts students and the rest of department staff were nearly as shaken by his potential loss as he was. Now everyone is hopeful (including parents/families) that he’s one of the 17 who’ll be keeping his job.

    It’s an ugly and poorly thought-out law that forces districts to do this to their staffs, but the blame belongs to Sacramento, not to our district administration. And believe me, I’ve always been *very* quick to blame the district when I thought that was where the responsibility belonged for anything I disagreed with. But even I can’t lay blame for this mess at the district’s feet, no matter how much I might like to.

    Hope that answers your question.

  • J.R.

    Sue,
    I agree with you, the funding system is flawed, the implementation of prop 13 stinks, the process for hiring and firing and laying off is a short sighted crock of cr@p. Not enough of the tax money goes directly to the students classrooms, and the system is built like an onion with too many layers. There you have it, a system that was destined for dysfunction.

  • Jesse James

    @Mr. Flint When will consolidation/moving multiple subject credentialed middle school teachers to elementary schools occur? You say it wont be an issue but if it happens to those 2 teachers-the one being pushed out and the one getting pushed in, it is. Would notification be done by May 15? By when, do you know?

    Thank you for responding! This is the main place I get my news~my administrator is fairly tightlipped.

  • Bellabaroo

    I am glad to hear no elementary school teachers will lose their jobs, but what about the schools losing teachers because of Results Based Budgeting?? Peralta is in danger of losing 1 of its 12 teachers, which would mean 11 teachers for 310 students. And the enrollment could be even more than that. Can anyone please explain this RBB and why such a shining example of a well run school that has successfully closed the achievement gap will likely have class sizes of 28 or more??

  • Yastrzemski

    Bellabaroo…I heard that about Crocker Highlands also, that the 1 retiring teacher would not be replaced…making one of the K-3 grade levels (with 60+ kids) down to 2 teachers with 30 kids each. Stupid!

  • Bellabaroo

    Wow Crocker too? I wasn’t aware of that. I know all schools are being hit hard, but 30 kids in K and 1st classes is pretty nuts. I think these schools will have TA’s in the class room, which is great. But I just wonder how much time will be spent on just class room management rather than instruction with that many kids. Would love to understand more about RBB and why such successful schools lose a teacher and have no replacement. Better start researching!

  • Gordon Danning

    Bellabaroo:

    My basic understanding of RBB is that each school is given a certain amount of money, and each principal can spend it as she or he withes. I don’t know that RBB has anything to do with layoffs/class sizes, in that districts without RBB are also laying off teachers and increasing class sizes.

    One issue at those specific schools might be that under RBB, a school with many veteran (ie, expensive) teachers will not be able to hire as many teachers (or other things) as a school with young and cheap teachers. But it might well be that the schools in question here do not have that issue, and that class sizes are going up because the principals are doing that instead of cutting other things.

    But, the real RBB expert on here is Steve Weinberg, so Steve, can you help clarify this?

  • Trish Gorham

    Results Based Budgeting(no one has ever defined how or what results determine that which the budget is based on)is the local version of what is usually called student-based or student-weighted funding. The money is supposed to follow the student, and then the site applies “market forces” to purchase teachers, custodians, supplies, etc.

    If you are losing a teacher because of RBB it is definitely because you have a more expensive, veteran staff. That is the case at Peralta.

    When implemented, it was advertised as a way to have more site decision-making. But in reality, it pushes sites into making draconian decisions based on, often, incomprehensible budget allocations.

    The model for the program has been Edmonton, Canada.
    But like almost everything, OUSD takes what might be considered a working model elsewhere and applies it in ways that has little to do with the original model.

    In Edmonton, each site pays for staff out of their own budget. BUT each site pays the exact same amount for each teacher based on a district average. This ensures that staffing decisions are not made based on how much an individual teacher costs. A school should not have its budget depleted because it has veteran teachers.

    There are many problems with RBB, but I think the most telling is that it is being actively pushed by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the group responsible for crafting the Arizona immigration law.

  • Gordon Danning

    Trish:

    Do we know for a fact that Peralta is losing a teacher “because of RBB”? Does Peralta have an unusually highly paid staff?

    Also, I don’t get why the fact that a conservative group is pushing RBB constitutes a “problem with RBB.” Either it helps kids, or it doesn’t – why does it matter who supports it?

  • Trish Gorham

    Gordon-
    Peralta does have a high percentage of veteran staff. And you said yourself in your post that more veteran staff may have a negative impact on budgets. I do know for a fact that the Peralta principal would do anything possible to prevent higher class sizes and combination classes.

    ALEC supporting student-based funding is suspect because, like many conservative organizations, their aim is to dismantle the public school system. Having the money follow the student is another way to say voucher. It is one of many end runs these groups are using to undermine the right of ALL students to a quality public education guaranteed by the government. It matters who supports it because what helps kids is not what their agenda is about.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Gordon:

    At last night’s special School Board meeting it was apparent from reading many of the Board Members faces that RBB was not popular with the school board, and the administration represented by Mr. Hal, when the Board has to contend with budget cuts but must sit on its hands until each site makes the decision on program and personnel cuts. RBB meaning real bad budgeting procedure is very frustrating to central administration during this period of cut, cut, and cut. And, when central administration disagrees with cuts as in the case in the past when clerical personnel that worked enrollment data at school sites were cut, there is even further delay in budget management.

    The idea for what Randy Ward its created called Results Based Budgeting and what Superintendent Smith having to work with Ouchi’s idea left over from the State take-over that Superintendent Smith publicly calls “enrollment based budgeting” not connected to results, was guided by book called Making Schools Work by William G. Ouchi, Anderson school of business, UCLA.

    Ouchi’s idea is better allocation of resources by decentralizing decision to school sites. It is not an idea that obviously works well with declining resources and the need to quickly respond to surprise cuts from Sacramento.

    Jim Mordecai
    Gordon:

    At last night’s special School Board meeting it was apparent from reading many of the Board Members faces that RBB was not popular with the school board, and the administration represented by Mr. Hal, when the Board has to contend with budget cuts but must sit on its hands until each site makes the decision on program and personnel cuts. RBB meaning real bad budgeting procedure is very frustrating to central administration during this period of cut, cut, and cut. And, when central administration disagrees with cuts as in the case in the past when clerical personnel that worked enrollment data at school sites were cut, there is even further delay in budget management.

    The idea for what Randy Ward its created called Results Based Budgeting and what Superintendent Smith having to work with Ouchi’s idea left over from the State take-over that Superintendent Smith publicly calls “enrollment based budgeting” not connected to results, was guided by book called Making Schools Work by William G. Ouchi, Anderson school of business, UCLA.

    Ouchi’s idea is better allocation of resources by decentralizing decision to school sites. It is not an idea that obviously works well with declining resources and the need to quickly respond to surprise cuts from Sacramento.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai

    Sorry:

    I posted prespell check and post spell check drafts.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Steven Weinberg

    Trish’s description of RBB is correct. The idea was to give each school community an opportunity to decide how to spend its per pupil allocation. The district takes what it needs for central services off the top and then divides the rest up on a per student basis. There is a different formula for elementary, middle, and high schools, and there were once factors giving more funds to small schools and schools with senior (more expensive) staffs. I know the funds for senior staff have been reduced over the years, but I don’t think they have been entirely eliminated.
    In addition to the general fund money which is allocated by the formula, schools receive additional special funds from the state or federal governments based on need (percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunches, number of English Language Learners, etc.) Allocation of these funds require the approval of the School Site Councils at those sites. If a site has a special grant, such as Quality Education Investment Act funds, those are also added to the site’s budget.
    I’m not sure whether RBB is a net positive or net negative for students, but the problem with its implementation in Oakland is that it coincided with funding cutbacks. Under RBB the central administration does not take the blame for the elimination of middle school librarians (whose numbers have shrunk greatly during the RBB years) because each site made its own decision to eliminate the position, but the central cutbacks in funding forced the schools to do so or lose something else they needed.
    It is not really fair to say that any positions are being eliminated this year because of RBB. The positions are being eliminated because the per student allocation has been cut and the decision makers at that site decided to eliminate that position to balance the budget.
    But it is true that if the district followed the Edmonton model of RBB (average, rather than actual site costs for employees) some schools would benefit and some would be hurt.
    Trish is also correct that no part of Results Based Budgeting has anything to do with results.

  • Bellabaroo

    thanks for the clarification. And to be clear, I am not certain Peralta is losing a teacher, have just been informed that it’s a possibility. Now the next question is, what can a community do? What can Peralta or Crocker Highlands do, if anything, to keep class size smaller and/or keep their teaching positions?

  • Gordon Danning

    Bellabaroo:

    Donate money. Convince 2 Republicans in each house of the state legislature to vote to put the tax extensions on the ballot. Support a parcel tax. It all comes down to generating more revenue. The District is getting a lot more money than it used to; it is tough to make any improvements in that situation unless that changes.