SAISD Lays Off 132 Teachers, 31 Administrators To Close Budget Gap

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Members of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel rally before the SAISD board meeting.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Members of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel rally before the SAISD board meeting Monday evening.

At a loud and emotional board meeting Monday night, the San Antonio Independent School District finalized layoffs for 132 teachers and 31 campus and central office administrators, part of an effort to close a $31 million budget gap. 

Last week, district officials met with teachers designated for layoffs and offered them the opportunity to resign instead of being terminated.

Sixty-three teachers were selected for layoffs, and an additional 69 teachers with probationary, one-year contracts did not have their contracts renewed for the next year. An additional 31 administrators had their positions eliminated.

As more than a hundred teachers packed the board meeting room, many holding signs and chanting loudly, trustees voted to terminate employees who did not submit resignations – 25 teachers, one administrator, and one student engagement facilitator.

Since March, trustees have struggled to deal with a $31 million budget deficit for the 2018-19 school year, caused largely by an 1,800-student decrease in enrollment. While trustees explored other options to reduce the budget gap, they said there was no combination of cuts that would reduce spending enough to prevent teacher layoffs.

The district projects it will save $11.3 million from teacher layoffs and an additional $6.7 million from attrition.

“This was by far probably the toughest decisions we have made,” Superintendent Pedro Martinez said, referring to his three-year tenure with SAISD. “I don’t think I’ve slept the last two weeks.”

Martinez said the district finished evaluations for each of its more than 3,360 teachers on April 30, then used the results to determine who would be laid off. Only this past year’s evaluations were used to determine who would be terminated.

Jill Rhodes-Pruin, SAISD’s director of educator quality, said she oversaw the evaluation process by averaging results of the teacher evaluations, which are scored across 16 categories. The district then weighted the different categories three different ways and averaged out scores to ensure that no teacher with an outlier score on one category was included in the layoffs.

Evaluations were based on a 45-minute teaching observation scheduled in advance, “walk throughs” or short observations throughout the year, and progress made on goals set at the beginning of the school year. Rhodes-Pruin emphasized that scoring was based on cumulative data from the 2017-18 school year, not just the 45-minute observation.

Teachers being terminated will have access to résumé workshops, but will not receive a severance package, SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said.

Members of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel rallied before the meeting Monday, denouncing the board and Martinez for what they perceived as a lack of transparency in the layoff process.

More than 60 teachers and parents signed up to speak in the public comment portion of the meeting. Most spoke against the layoffs, with some crying and others speaking longer than their allotted time. At times, district police officers approached the podium to take the microphone away from speakers who had exceeded their one-minute time limit.

“I dreaded coming into work this morning,” said one tearful teacher whose position had been eliminated.

Many told the trustees that they should be worried come election time.

After all the speakers had their time at the podium, the room erupted in chants calling for the district to terminate Martinez. “RIF Pedro!” teachers yelled. RIF is short for reduction in force, which is the technical term for layoffs.

And as board members took their initial unanimous vote to approve the process, teachers responded with a booming cries of “Nay!”

When trustees first learned they might have to lay off teachers to cope with the budget shortfall, they said that they hoped the number would be reduced by attrition. Most teachers resign or indicate plans to leave the district during May and June, SAISD’s Chief Financial Officer Larry Garza said.

Last year, 100 teachers gave notice during the month of May that they intended to resign. This year, only 37 have submitted resignations. Garza said he believes that SAISD’s attrition numbers were affected by several nearby districts also facing budget problems, thereby limiting open positions elsewhere.

Should attrition continue at a higher rate than expected and result in job vacancies in departments in which teachers were laid off, Martinez said the district would welcome terminated teachers to apply for the vacancies.

When the district first began looking into ways to cut the budget, Martinez said that he discovered the district was overstaffed by 255 teachers, mainly at the Pre-K and elementary level and in core subject areas in grades six through eight. After layoffs and some attrition, Martinez said the district will still be overstaffed by 108 teachers.

Though the district has an abundance of teachers in some areas, it will continue to hire in other areas where it is understaffed: high school core subjects, special education, bilingual, career and technical education, and foreign languages, Martinez said.

If the district remains overstaffed and if enrollment continues to decline, as SAISD officials expect for next year, trustees may face a similar budget quandary a year from now.

Martinez said that he projects an additional 800 students will leave the district before the next school year. He attributed the enrollment loss to the growth of charter schools within SAISD boundaries.

14 thoughts on “SAISD Lays Off 132 Teachers, 31 Administrators To Close Budget Gap

  1. Right sizing= larger class sizes. Top heavy in Elementary? Hey Pedro smaller class sizes might ATTRACT families to SAISD. Pedro isn’t a leader, and the board has shown that they have given up. Elections are around the corner, and you have pissed off a lot of people. Time to check into SPEC ED. Contact the parents of SPEC ED. students AND teachers let’s see what stories are to be found there. This is a symptom of a larger problem, this b.s. school of thought from Duncan, DeVos, to Martinez and his Broad school this cancer on public ed has come to San Antonio and we will organize to fight it!

  2. “attributed the enrollment loss to the growth of charter schools within SAISD boundaries.”
    Good old fashioned competition!

    • not competition. Charters and public schools operate under different rules, most importantly, charters can cherry pick their students.

      • I might add that the children of Stewart do not have a choice. They must attend Democracy Prep. After that, DP will cherry pick through various filtering mechanisms to keep the most “compliant” students. Those rejected will have to go back to SAISD (less teachers now, and through time, more students in classes, less teachers..on and on. This is not rocket science.

        In saying this, I have to note that the impact of perceived “failure” on the part of those students filtered out of charter schools (in my view the most likely to display critical thinking) cannot be underestimated. Elementary students are the most vulnerable to such a negative impact on self esteem. It will then be up to overloaded, poorly treated, SAISD teachers to help these students regain a sense of personal value in education and love of learning….They can do it, but no easy task considering the negative imposition of testing wrought on them by the state bad actors.

        • Also, the new online enrollment hasn’t helped, especially for those families without access to computers. It also has problems….

  3. Pedro, don’t be dramatic about your loss of sleep. I’m sure it was work related. What is your contribution, financially, to the budget deficit? A leader would have contributed too.

  4. I am not sure sure why I bother to write this…just plain struggle to maintain some semblance of democratic process….but, again, it is quite clear that this RR is biased in favor of the decisions made by the Board and SAISD administration.

    If one took all the information presented at the meeting last night, and coupled it with just plain old investigative reporting (hint, hint RR) one would see a pattern: All decisions (state/local) have been made in alignment with the purpose of the having charter schools privatize public education in SAISD and elsewhere (including these calculated layoffs, when charter school hire their own).

    The players, the superintendent (trained Board education -no academic experience-Hint!) , Board members (What happened to PR? ) are pawns, but they bear responsibility for their decision nonetheless. My suggestion is that the community, faculty and staff get together, bypass these systems, and come up with “a fifth option” in addition to the “four options” imposed by the state as a means of privatization. From what I heard last night, I am pretty sure they can come up with a better plan.

  5. If Charter schools take the students whose parents are able to manage the transport and the application process, and they aren’t required to take all students or to keep students that are difficult to work with, who gets to tough job of trying to educate the kids who have nothing going for them?
    It would seem that districts in that situation should get more funding from the state!
    The biggest problem is the Texas Legislature that created this mess!

  6. They should cut deeply in all the excess curriculum specialists, directors they recently created new positions & look closely how over staffed Human Resources is also. Less teachers should also equate to fewer professionals needed at HR. Also consolidate departments that function as smaller school districts.

    • YES YES YES! This is such a great point! SAISD is waaaaaaaaay too top heavy and in need of reduction in upper administration! The majority of people in upper admin have no idea what is going on in schools and many of them seem unnecessary for the district to function well anyway!

  7. SAISD has been in trouble since the board thought it was a good idea to hire a Supt. with no experience (Pedro). Has anyone researched the firm that the district has paid over a million dollars to help teach Pedro how to effectively become a great Supt. First of all they need a refund and secondly that money could have gone to teacher pay. How can someone with no education background run an inner city district such as SAISD. Let’s not mention all of his little projects that were supposed to bring more students and revenue to the district, i.e. ALA, The Montessori Academy, selling Stewart Elementary and Highlands HS to a charter company, etc. he’s giving all the students AWAY!!!!!! Stop pretending and complaining Pedro you saw this coming.

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