SACRAMENTO — Sacramento City Unified School District board President Jessie Ryan delivered a personal and emotional presentation Thursday as the district considered laying off teachers and staff.
“As the daughter of a single welfare mother, I probably would not have graduated from high school or even decided to continue to go to school had it not been for access that I had to free music and arts programs, which gave me joy in often very destitute times,” Ryan said Thursday. “So to know that we’re laying individuals like this off.”
Though the board expressed grave concern about how removing resources would hurt the most vulnerable students, they still voted for the layoffs.
As it is, the elimination of 178 positions will only fill $5 million of the $35 million hole in SCUSD’s budget. Thanks to attrition, only 102 pink slips will be handed out in SCUSD.
For example, the district’s only bilingual coordinator is slated to receive a pink slip. Twenty percent of district students are English language learners.
Moved by the same kind of offerings that moved Ryan, Craig Warren spoke on behalf of the orchestra program his daughter enjoys at C.K. McClatchy High School.
“We support these kids and their dreams and, basically, I’m asking you to do the same thing,” he said.
Thursday night, he was the lone voice from the public formally offered at the end of a monthslong debate between the district and its teachers union over contracted benefits. The district has been plagued by a potential state takeover.
Though personally a fan of what some call the socialized medicine proposals of Bernie Sanders, Frederick Gayle Jr. said he understands why the teachers haven’t renegotiated what they currently have for a cheaper insurance plan.
“Health care is very expensive and it’s important, especially for young teachers if they’ve got a family,” Gayle said.
Ninety-one cents of every district dollar is going to salaries and benefits.
Though members of the Sacramento City Teachers Association have walked the picket line and protested the district’s plans loudly, Thursday night’s final vote decision was largely unattended by the group as they held their own private meeting.
There is hope for rehiring those laid off as remaining positions reopen, but there are no guarantees.
Friday morning, John Borsos with the Sacramento City Teachers Association responded with the following:
“SCTA is greatly disappointed that Sac City Unified has valued administrators over educators in the classroom.
We believe that the District’s action, made in secret and behind closed doors, is illegal. It also contradicts the promise of district leaders that the budget won’t be balanced on the backs of our students.
Ironically, the district has not justified the cuts as a cost cutting measure, but rather in response to an unspecified drop in enrollment.
We encourage the state auditor, who was to begin its forensic audit of the District on May 1, to investigate the District’s layoff decision as well.”