After a three-night “sleep-in” inside San Francisco Unified School District offices, teachers demanding pay from the district have reached an agreement with the district.
On March 14, more than a dozen SFUSD educators began the sleep-in, calling for the district to pay more than 1,000 teachers and other staff members who have gone unpaid or only received partial paychecks since January.
The educators have said because of the payment issue, they have been unable to pay rent, mortgages, medical bills, and other necessities.
District officials have said that while the majority of its more than 10,000 employees have been paid correctly, a portion of educators went unpaid due to a technical error attributed to the district switching to a new payroll system, replacing an older system that had been in place for the last 17 years.
Under the agreement, the district will pay all educators owed money, as well as interest for the late payments.
Additionally, the district has promised to address any payroll errors moving forward within 72 hours. Also, the district will reimburse the affected educators for any late fees and penalties incurred.
An ‘exhausting’ ordeal
“This occupation was the result of months and months of trying to negotiate with the district and trying to ask that folks get paid what they’re due,” said teacher and United Educators of San Francisco member Frank Lara during a rally this past Thursday outside the district offices.
“It’s been exhausting for all of us,” he said.
“I cannot thank enough the families and the community partners who’ve come out and offered us their food, their support,” UESF president Cassondra Curiel said. “Your help and support got management to make moves and we know we’re on the same page. Now there will be less stress and people will be paid for the jobs that they’re doing.”
“We remain committed to ensuring every staff member receives all of the pay they are owed,” SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews said in a statement. “I want to again extend my deepest apologies to every employee who has been impacted in any way as a result of our transition to a new payroll system.”
According to the district, the new agreement also ensures that all employees will be able to input COVID-19 sick leave, including any COVID-19-related sick leave that has already been taken. The district is also offering 10 additional COVID-19 sick days of leave for employees.
The payment issues come as the district is dealing with other financial woes — a $125 projected budget shortfall — and considering laying off hundreds of teachers and other staff to balance the budget.
On Friday, district officials announced enrollment preparations for the upcoming school year. So far, 14,127 families have submitted enrollment applications, slightly up from last school year when 13,917 families submitted applications.