SCUSD educators, staff set strike date

Two unions representing Sacramento City Unified School District educators and staff have set a strike date as issues over short-staffing continue. Thursday’s decision to plan to strike starting on March 23 was announced at a rally in support of teachers and staff who feel the district is inadequately staffed. Hundreds of people attended the rally at the Serna Center ahead of the SCUSD school board meeting. The scheduled strike date comes a week after the Sacramento City Teachers Association and Service Employees International Union 1021 overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike. In a Zoom meeting to announce the authorization, the unions said a strike would happen “if the district continued to bargain in bad faith.” Teachers and staff are demanding better benefits and are asking the district to hire more teachers as they face a staffing shortage that they say has left 10,000 students to go without a regular teacher in the classroom every day. “We talk all the time, our district doesn’t have a budget problem it has a priority problem…what we’re hoping is that this will motivate district leadership to come to the table with us and negotiate in good faith so we can resolve this staffing crisis and avoid work stoppage,” said President of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, David Fisher. The unions say the district is currently short 250 teachers, 100 substitutes and an additional 400 classified staffing positions for jobs such as school bus drivers, custodians and instructional aides.”We constantly lose people. They are being recruited by Elk Grove, by San Juan, part of it is working conditions, it’s easier to work at those other places because you don’t have so many outside things are battling against ,” said ninth-grade biology teacher, Shana Just. Just a couple hours after the rally, the Sacramento City Unified School District school board had a meeting. A joint statement was read aloud, part of which doubled down on the District’s explanation for the current situation: funding issues.”For many years, our district has struggled to balance a budget. This struggle goes back decades,” the Board said. “For too long, our district has committed to ongoing costs that are greater than ongoing revenues that our district receives from state and federal governments. We are proud that our board has taken fiscally sound steps toward correcting the long-standing structural imbalances in the district budget.”The Board also continued to speak out against a teacher strike.“We have a deep concern and compassion for our students in our district who will lose valuable time in the classroom if a strike takes place. Our families will suffer from the uncertainty and lack of stability in the event if schools are forced to close due to a strike,” the Board said. In a letter to families Wednesday night, SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said a strike would make keeping schools open difficult.”Specifically, because substitute teachers in SCUSD are represented by SCTA the district cannot hire substitutes to fill in for teachers who are out on strike. We will continue to communicate and will share additional details about what will happen if SCTA and SEIU set a date for a strike,” the letter read.“I want to emphasize our concern and compassion for the students in our district who lose valuable time in the classroom if a strike takes place… Our families will suffer from uncertainty and lack of stability in the event that our schools are forced to close due to strikes,” said board president at SCUSD, Christina Pritchett. The district participated in a “Fact Finding hearing earlier this month. Details from the report are expected to be released Thursday.

Two unions representing Sacramento City Unified School District educators and staff have set a strike date as issues over short-staffing continue.

Thursday’s decision to plan to strike starting on March 23 was announced at a rally in support of teachers and staff who feel the district is inadequately staffed. Hundreds of people attended the rally at the Serna Center ahead of the SCUSD school board meeting.

The scheduled strike date comes a week after the Sacramento City Teachers Association and Service Employees International Union 1021 overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike. In a Zoom meeting to announce the authorization, the unions said a strike would happen “if the district continued to bargain in bad faith.”

Teachers and staff are demanding better benefits and are asking the district to hire more teachers as they face a staffing shortage that they say has left 10,000 students to go without a regular teacher in the classroom every day.

“We talk all the time, our district doesn’t have a budget problem it has a priority problem…what we’re hoping is that this will motivate district leadership to come to the table with us and negotiate in good faith so we can resolve this staffing crisis and avoid work stoppage,” said President of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, David Fisher.

The unions say the district is currently short 250 teachers, 100 substitutes and an additional 400 classified staffing positions for jobs such as school bus drivers, custodians and instructional aides.

“We constantly lose people. They are being recruited by Elk Grove, by San Juan, part of it is working conditions, it’s easier to work at those other places because you don’t have so many outside things are battling against,” said ninth-grade biology teacher, Shana Just.

Just a couple hours after the rally, the Sacramento City Unified School District school board had a meeting. A joint statement was read aloud, part of which doubled down on the District’s explanation for the current situation: funding issues.

“For many years, our district has struggled to balance a budget. This struggle goes back decades,” the Board said. “For too long, our district has committed to ongoing costs that are greater than ongoing revenues that our district receives from state and federal governments. We are proud that our board has taken fiscally sound steps toward correcting the long-standing structural imbalances in the district budget.”

The Board also continued to speak out against a teacher strike.

“We have a deep concern and compassion for our students in our district who will lose valuable time in the classroom if a strike takes place. Our families will suffer from the uncertainty and lack of stability in the event if schools are forced to close due to a strike,” the Board said.

In a letter to families Wednesday night, SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said a strike would make keeping schools open difficult.

“Specifically, because substitute teachers in SCUSD are represented by SCTA the district cannot hire substitutes to fill in for teachers who are out on strike. We will continue to communicate and will share additional details about what will happen if SCTA and SEIU set a date for a strike,” the letter read.

“I want to emphasize our concern and compassion for the students in our district who lose valuable time in the classroom if a strike takes place… Our families will suffer from uncertainty and lack of stability in the event that our schools are forced to close due to strikes,” said board president at SCUSD, Christina Pritchett.

The district participated in a “Fact Finding” hearing earlier this month. Details from the report are expected to be released Thursday.

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