Tuesday, March 22, 2022

SUP JORGE A. AGUILAR AND CHRISTINA PRITCHETT SPECIAL TO THE SACRAMENTO BEE If Sacramento school employees go on strike it’s the city’s students who will suffer most

If Sacramento school employees go on strike, it’s the city’s students who will suffer most

We at Sacramento City Unified School District understand how difficult and frustrating the past few years have been for our community. Employees are exhausted and feel underappreciated. School employees have a tough job, and it got a lot tougher during the pandemic.

Our students have experienced trauma and educational disruption due to the pandemic. In the event of a strike, we’ll do our best to provide essential programs such as nutrition services because many of our students depend on school meals and count on schools as safe-havens. But we will be unable to offer instruction.

In the end, students stand to lose more education. Not long after they were finally able to get back into classrooms, a strike will disrupt their return to normalcy. We are deeply concerned about how that will affect their mental well-being, academic progress, and participation in extracurricular activities.

Our goal is to keep students in the classroom to continue learning. Given a statewide staffing shortage, we share concerns about staffing and are willing to come to the table to reach a mutual agreement to address this challenge. No other district in our region is under required fiscal oversight by the Sacramento County Office of Education, and no other district in our region is facing a strike, even though all districts face staffing shortages.

It’s also our goal to avoid going down a path toward insolvency. We are fortunate that the federal and state governments provided increased funding to address the COVID-related needs of students and schools. We used one-time funds as soon as they were available to authorize the hiring of 125 nurses, social workers, counselors, and school psychologists, among others, to address the urgent needs of students coming out of COVID isolation.

We want to do more to responsibly address inequities in our community, but we recognize the fiscal challenges we face.

While COVID relief funds provide an opportunity to compensate our staff for their extra efforts, there is a delicate balance between investing one-time funds in compensation and funding ongoing commitments with predictable revenue streams. For example, our 125 new employees are owed a long-term plan to keep them in our district so they can continue to serve students and families for years to come. On our current path, we won’t be able to do that when the one-time funds expire in 2024.

We seek to achieve the right balance by freeing up millions of dollars in health care costs while maintaining full coverage for all employees and their families, with no out-of-pocket cost for employees at a premium Kaiser level. We plan to use those savings to provide a reasonable salary increase that keeps our teachers among the highest-paid in the region.

In addition, we want to use one-time funds to give stipends to all staff; offer hiring bonuses to attract new employees; provide extra pay for substitutes for the 2021-22 school year; give additional pay to nurses who took on extra COVID-related work at our schools this year; and add more paid days of professional development for teachers.

We are committed to demonstrating integrity and leadership at the bargaining table by recognizing our employees while ensuring that we don’t use one-time funds for ongoing expenditures. Our hope is that we can close out this difficult year by reaching mutually agreeable labor contracts and working together on the next three-year contract for the long-term benefit of our students.

Jorge A. Aguilar is the Sacramento City Unified School District superintendent. Christina Pritchett is the district board president and wrote on behalf of the entire board.



Big Education Ape: THE SAC CITY STRIKE HAS TURNED INTO A FULL FLEDGE REVOLT #STRIKE #SCTA #SEIU #UPE - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2022/03/the-sac-city-strike-that-has-turned.html