San Antonio ISD Mulls Staff Layoffs In Wake of $31 Million Deficit

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The San Antonio Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The San Antonio Independent School District board of trustees considers its forthcoming budget.

San Antonio Independent School District trustees on Monday night took the first step toward potential staff layoffs in light of a major budget shortfall and steep enrollment declines projected for the 2018-19 school year.

Trustees unanimously approved the use of a “necessary reduction in personnel” as a possible option to combat the district's $31 million deficit.

Superintendent Pedro Martinez said staff layoffs are an option but not guaranteed. District officials said they will notify teachers by mid-May if they need to cut jobs.

But the district seems to suggest job cuts are likely. "While we are examining various cost-saving alternatives, none will generate sufficient revenue to eliminate the need for this action," SAISD officials write in a board agenda document that identifies administration, assistant principals, associate principals, and non-master teachers as staff that will likely be affected.

If the district finds it must reduce its number of teachers, the number of layoffs will be determined by how many teachers submit resignations before the end of the year. District officials reported that as of April 6, SAISD had 73 vacancies, left by teachers who chose to leave by the end of the school year.

"Our goal would be to keep the numbers as small as possible," Martinez said, noting that the district would monitor retirement numbers over the next month.

Typically, teachers notify the district of their intent to leave SAISD in May and June. If further reductions are needed, SAISD would base terminations on employee performance.

Martinez said discussions about job cuts would also examine whether certain district-wide departments need to decrease in size or be eliminated.

The board plans to vote on the overall budget on June 18.

Using layoffs to shrink the budget depends on whether SAISD can find enough savings to bridge the budget gap or have enough staffing attrition before the budget approval process in June.

At the April 9 board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Larry Garza said the district will save money through an energy savings program, transportation efficiencies, pharmacy-plan change, and child nutrition efficiencies. Altogether, the district could save about $2 million through these operational changes, he said.

Otherwise, the district will “right size” staffing to align with student enrollment, which is projected to sink below 50,000 students in 2018-19. This decrease represents a decline of more than 2,000 students in two school years. SAISD projects it will lose an additional 800 students in 2018-19.

In 2016-17, SAISD employed more than 4,300 teachers and 3,200 professional support staff. School leadership comprised 222 campus administrators and 71 central office administrators.

In 2017-18, the district employed 235 campus administrators and 69 central office administrators.

Garza said SAISD is bleeding enrollment at 65 of its 90 campuses. The majority of campuses losing enrollment serve elementary students. Only 15 of SAISD’s schools project an enrollment increase for next year. The remaining 10 campuses show an increase of less than 20 students in 2018-19.

Martinez said the widespread enrollment decline makes it hard to reshuffle staff so everybody is guaranteed a position.

On April 9, Garza reported there would be 103 teachers “displaced” by program changes, meaning they would not keep their current positions next year. Martinez said this number includes educators who teach programs or grades that are being phased out at different campuses, like the eighth grade program at Highlands High School, which will no longer be offered.

There are an additional 169 teachers who will also be displaced by separate enrollment declines.

Martinez said not all of these 272 teachers could be placed in the 15 campuses with growing enrollment. Some of these campuses, including Steele Montessori Academy and Mark Twain Dual Language Academy, offer specialized programs that require specific teaching experience.

“The challenge right now is between the number of teachers [who] are going to be displaced...and the fact that we have so many schools across our district that are declining or have no increase,” Martinez said on April 9.

Shelley Potter, president of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel, said if approved and implemented, this would be the first time SAISD has ever implemented a reduction in force for teachers.

San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel President Shelley Potter addresses the SAISD Board of Trustees.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel President Shelley Potter addresses the SAISD board of trustees.

She asked the district to find another way to save money.

"We fear that declaration will create further anxiety among district teachers," Potter said. "Keep the cuts away from the classroom."

Trustee Ed Garza (D7) said the district took similar action in 2011, but ultimately avoided any reduction through attrition, adding that SAISD wouldn't know the entire impact "until the dust settles and process takes its course over the next month or two."

9 thoughts on “San Antonio ISD Mulls Staff Layoffs In Wake of $31 Million Deficit

  1. Let’s look at those 3,200 professional support staff. What exactly do they do? How much are they paid? The school campuses are where the real teaching should occur, where the students are fed, nutured, counseled, and educated. So much of this professional support staff takes away from teaching, is comprised of self-righteous people who are not in the day-to-day mix of working with students. And our students are so in need. The state testing scores are dismal and counterproductive to learning, the library is no longer an important part of the school. The teachers are stressed due to the constant meetings about the importance of testing. On testing day kids are sick. Our “new ” library at Fenwick ES was poorly planned and leaked all year. SAISD employees, contractors, architects all came to look at & blamed someone else. Yet the district campaigned and got its huge bond. The district is mis-managed and misguided. The state mandated tests ruin education and the taxpayers continue to pay for our kids to be poorly educated.

  2. If there is such a shortfall, why has new construction, renovations and infrastructural activity been so rampart. Why was that not put into the equation (example: rear ornate fence and gate at Page Middle School). Where are the dollars going from the sale of SAISD’s Administrative offices and property? Will that revenue be used to build the newly proposed offices. Why wasn’t the shortfall factored into the sale and priced to cover expenses associated with new build as well as the shortfall. Why not consolidate some of the operations and facilities that house them instead of spreading out those services in multiple sites (SAISD police, vehicle/large equipment maintenance and storage, example Drexel and Austin Street locations)

    Dollars have been wasted on inanimate ventures instead being used for human capital (i.e.. teachers and students). Of course districts loose students when they are not addressing student needs, parents will seek better options.

    • The work that is being done to Page and other schools is being paid for with BOND money. This type of money can only be used “for the construction and renovation of facilities, the acquisition of land, and the purchase of capital items such as equipment”. And I’m not sure if the sale has been finalized yet of the old offices but the intent is there to consolidate into a single building if possible. I do not support the idea of having to let go of teachers due to budget shortfall but if the district keeps shrinking and class sizes continue to decrease then I can see why it is at the very least an option on the table the board has to look at.

  3. Need to CLOSE campuses (not re purpose) and divest of real property. SAISD owns valuable real estate in Urban Core. Realize- declining student enrollment will be ongoing for SAISD ( as well as other school districts ).
    The unpleasant reality is People will lose their positions.

    • The unpleasant reality is students are not being educated. That should be the focus and the area to change. Our students are unprepared for work or college so our cycle of being an uneducated workforce living in poverty continues.

  4. The SAISD is a badly flawed and failing business. Public schools in the US are some of the worst in the industrialized world,…while public schools in Texas and other southern states are the worst in the US. Texas is #49 in public school funding which instantly puts public schools in the state at an extreme disadvantage. Public schools in San Antonio are some of the worst in Texas,….all of them ranging from mediocre to lousy. SAISD schools have been taken over completely by bureaucrats and politicians,…..and are top-heavy in management and administrative people who cruise about the district offices with Starbuck’s in one hand and plates of donut holes in the other. At one very prominent high school last year a “principal in training” was seen in the main hallway all day rubbing ashes on the foreheads of students,…in celebration of “Ash Wednesday”,….openly flouting the clear constitutional dictum separating church and state. “Administrators” at the campuses waste even more time and resources by marching about armed with walkie-talkies in search of kids to suspend,….or to send to OCI,…..for having the wrong color shirt on. The public schools in the SAISD are run like jails and juvenile facilities,….with ”school cops” and dope sniffing dogs skulking about,….and where the kids are hollered at and hustled about like convicts and third-class citizens. The most galling sight of all is that of tiny kindergartners shuffling down the halls with their little hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them,…like they are marching off to work in the cotton fields all day. The buildings in the SAISD are falling apart and overrun with rodents,….plumbing fixtures are falling off of the restroom walls,…and the drinking fountains do not work. The kids have no textbooks, or lockers to keep them in,…the food in the cafeterias is not fit for human consumption,….the libraries are denuded of books,…the teachers quit on droves, or do nothing but talk about retirement,….the doddering, septuagenarian substitutes sit on their duff all day complaining about the kids and reading magazines,….while the kids who graduate cannot read or write past the sixth grade, through no fault of their own. It is indeed a tragedy that the similarly mediocre and profit-driven charter schools are nibbling away at the SAISD schools,….but this is precisely what the state legislature wants. Texas, since long before “reconstruction”, has been a “slave state” where multi-generational poverty is practically a natural resource,….along with oil, booze, bullets and bibles. Poor schools,….especially over the last thirty years,….have continued this cycle of poverty everywhere in the state, especially in the inner cities. It is far more cost effective for republicans to de-fund public schools than it is to hire expensive lawyers to gerrymander the state to death (though they do it anyway) and suppress the voter turnout by surrounding the polls with Texas rangers. Poor Hispanic and Black kids grow up to be poor adults,….and poor adults do not vote,….thus keeping the republicans in power indefinitely. Trump happened because few people voted,……and now THEY want the hapless teachers and “administrators” to carry guns.

  5. Were SAISD teachers who were let go last year on a hit list that was already submited to principals back in September and were some of the teachers let go paid off by the district to be quiet?

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