SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — How important it is for Sacramento City Unified Students to get in an extra eight days’ worth of education depends on who is asked.
“I don’t think they’re going to be doing a whole lot for that extra week. I think they’re going to coast to get the time in,” said Steven Johnson, a SCUSD parent.
Sacramento City Unified closed schools for eight days in late March and early April when staff, including bus drivers, teacher aides, nutrition workers and teachers went on strike.
“People missing school because of COVID, and then they went on the strike. And now they haven’t decided. Seems to me kids need to stay their entire full year so they can learn,” parent Gina Paaske said.
But learning loss isn’t the only concern. In April, the County Board of Education reminded the school district of the financial cost of the strike.
“While the district expects $8.4 million in savings because of the strike, it will also be subject to state penalties of $47 million for failing to offer the minimum number of instructional days and minutes,” the Board of Education said.
The school would lose nearly $39 million dollars.
The school district has proposed extending instruction on Thursdays and adding an extra week to the school year, but ironically, they must go back to the bargaining table with some of the same parties that went on strike to be able to do that.
“As teachers, we want to make up the time. We also don’t want to incur any financial penalties as a result of the schools being closed,” said Sacramento City Teachers Association President David Fisher.
Fisher said their union is unclear on what the delay is with the school district solidifying a plan to address the missed instruction time.
“As a parent, I want to know. As an employee, we want to know,” Fisher said.
The district said they are trying to navigate issues related to employee benefits and ensuring there will be enough staff not just to open schools but provide actual instruction.
Some parents said, whatever is decided, it would be helpful to know as soon as possible.
“I think it just makes summer planning a little bit harder,” parent Lori Fuller said.
Her daughter Riley, though, likely speaks for a lot of students, wanting to keep as much summer as she can.
“I just hope it’s not too long because I would like to have things to do this summer and not to have them cut short,” Riley Johnson said.
On Friday night, the school district sent out a press release providing details of what additional days could be added and how the district plans to make sure teachers are in the classroom during those extra days.
The district proposes to extend miniature days by one hour including June 16, making June 17 a regular day of instruction and adding June 20 to June 24 as full instruction days.
To make sure that teachers are in the classroom to during these additional days the district proposes that only 20 percent of certificated staff can use approved leave time between June 16 and June 24.
“Asking that our staff report to work on the instructional days that we owe our students is necessary to provide a safe learning environment and will ensure that our students receive a meaningful learning experience at school,” the district stated in a news release.
The district also stated in the press release that staff that participated in the strike may not get paid which could effect their retirement benefits with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).
CalSTRS suggests that those SCTA members that did not work a full school calendar year make up those days in order to get credit for a full year of service towards their retirement, according to the press release.