San Francisco

San Francisco Teachers Fight for Bigger Budget to Attract, Retain Instructors Amid Shortage

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The new school year is arriving with a major problem -- a teacher shortage.

Members of the United Educators of San Francisco rallied outside the city’s school district headquarters Tuesday to fight for a bigger budget as they say more money would attract and retain instructors.

“We also know that this ‘shortage’ is not here because there aren’t qualified educators out there. That’s simply not true. It’s actually because we have a respect shortage and we have a pay shortage,” said Leslie Hu, UESF secretary.

Union leadership said part of the solution is on the way, with the state budgeting $70 million for this school district this year, and $50 million annually, in perpetuity. 

The union president said it has to be used to attract and retain instructors because things simply can’t go on as they are.

“It’s awful! It’s awful when you know you have to move classrooms,” said Cassondra Cariel. “Some classrooms are being combined and educators are scrambling to cover some classrooms on a daily basis.”

Nationwide, there are 280,000 fewer public school teachers this year, than before the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

In De Kalb, Texas, to compete with larger school systems that can afford to pay more, they’re offering a four-day workweek to retain teachers.

“One day a week doesn't sound like that big of a deal. But it sure seems like it to me,” said teacher Laura Hunt.

The lost learning time is partially made up with an hour added to each school day.

At Tuesday’s San Francisco School Board meeting, teachers were acknowledged by the school district superintendent.

“What we recognize is that we make sure we are prioritizing our investment in compensation for our staff so we can be able to recruit and retain,” said Dr. Matt Wayne. 

The high cost of living in San Francisco is a big part of the problem. Average starting salary is between 43 and 65,000 a year depending on training and experience. 

The poverty line in the city is $82,000 for an individual. 

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