As Sacramento schools prepare for a strike this week, the union representing their principals has put more pressure on the Sacramento City Unified School District by releasing a poll showing its members want to vote “no confidence” in the Superintendent Jorge Aguilar.
In a letter to Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and the Board of Education, the United Public Employees union said it “has lost faith in the district’s ability to provide effective leadership.”
The union represents principals, vice-principals and various administrators.
The letter comes a day before the Sacramento City Teachers Association and SEIU Local Lodge 1021 are planning an “open-ended” strike over teacher shortages and COVID-19 protocol.
United Public Employees representatives said the District’s senior leadership is “unsustainable” and that their members can “no longer be agents of what the District cannot accomplish through proper negotiations at the table.” negotiation with other trade union partners”.
About 71% of United Public Employees members who responded to the survey said the union should engage in a vote of no confidence in Aguilar, Aguilar’s cabinet and the Board of Education.
The union listed its members’ frustrations in a 14-page letter that included detailed survey results reflecting what more than 100 administrators think of the district and the impending strike.
About 91% of union administrators said they felt they would not be able to open their campus safely on Wednesday if the strike took place.
But 58% said they didn’t think the administrators’ union should support the teachers’ and SEIU’s strike.
What Sacramento Directors Are Saying
In the letter, administrators shared many of the same concerns as teachers: they are too dispersed, pulled into classrooms to teach and meetings to organize.
Since the pandemic, the letter says, members of the United Public Employees have done their jobs as administrators while serving as substitute teachers, yard duties, mask enforcers, computer distributors, contact tracers, special education aids.
In a statement to The Bee, Aguilar said school site leaders have worked “tirelessly” during the pandemic.
“I share UPE’s commitment to maintaining a relationship of collaboration and mutual respect, and I listen to the concerns of school principals,” he said. “We hope to work together to rebuild trust to continue to meet the needs of our Sac City students.”
Based on their survey results, almost half of administrators said that at least one vacancy in schools had not been filled for more than a school year.
One administrator shared in the letter that there were eight to twelve vacancies throughout the year.
“I don’t feel supported given the needs of the community I serve,” the poll read. “We have left our most intensive construction sites stranded on an island.
“Directors were encouraged to attend multiple zooms simultaneously,” the letter read. “It is appalling and unacceptable.”
More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they were either actively seeking employment outside the district or considering early retirement. Several school principals and administrators quit their jobs mid-year, citing “intolerable” working conditions.
“The kids in our town lose every time”
But Nate McGill, principal of Ethel I. Baker Elementary, said administrators should have entered the school year expecting many of those challenges.
“Nobody becomes a site manager to do an easy job,” he said. “This, combined with the current labor dispute, is a largely adult-centric narrative and obscures the fact that no one has faced more barriers to success than our students and their families. Unfortunately, what we spend our time talking about are the adults in our system.
The union’s 11-member executive board made recommendations to the district, reassessing the current bargaining model, engaging in audits to identify inefficiencies that slow hiring practices, and student-centered teaching.
Many members of the administrators’ union have said the workload, which can turn into 12-hour days and working weekends, has had a negative impact on their own health and on the success of their students.
The letter shares stories from several principals and administrators, documenting heightened student anxiety and challenge, low student attendance, and some schools only playing catch-up with special education assessments. One administrator said he didn’t have time to support his students and there weren’t enough staff to support students.
“Leadership through press releases and constant legal wrangling only creates winners and losers,” the letter read. “The kids in our town lose every time.”
This story was originally published March 22, 2022 3:12 p.m.