Recent news coverage has highlighted the relatively low pay of teachers in SFUSD. Why are our salaries not competitive?
The temporary tax increases authorized under Proposition 30 have nearly brought us back to inflation-adjusted 2007-2008 funding levels. California is still among the lowest funded states in per pupil funding for public education, and also has a state-controlled school funding system where local communities have extremely limited opportunities to fund their own local schools. While we have developed local sources of funding for San Francisco public schools, we remain a very low-funded school district.
We have chosen to invest in important programs for our students. These are supports that our students need. They include language programs, restorative practices, academic coaching, art and music programs, special academic areas like ethnic studies, assistant principals for large schools, support personnel like social workers, nurses and counselors, and, most significantly, smaller class sizes. These are the kinds of things that all schools need and should have. In states with higher funding like Massachusetts and New York, they do. Here in San Francisco, we have made these investments because we agree that they are the right thing to do. But this means that we have not had enough money to keep up with the needed investments in salaries and benefits.
We have also had extreme increases in required payments for districts into the State Teachers Retirement System. About half of the money coming to school districts from the temporary increases in income taxes must be paid for retirement costs.
School Board members and the administration must face the reality that compensation is the most important priority for our school district at this time. There will be tough choices to be made. We will probably have to choose between raises and further investments in worthy programs. I plan to speak against new programs and, if I have to, to vote against funds for new programs and increased funding for on-going programs.
Our employees must come first at this time of crisis.
Now we are in a crisis. Teachers can’t afford the skyrocketing rents in San Francisco.