Results, Fewer Suspensions Mean Raise for San Fran Super

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The San Francisco Unified School District School Board has unanimously granted Superintendent Richard Carranza a 27% raise, boosting his current salary by $65,000.

Now, in his third year in the position, beginning July 1, Carranza will be earning $310,000 annually, according to Jill Tucker of the San Francisco Chronicle. This puts the superintendent’s yearly earnings at a comparable level with superintendents across the state, but the increase is about the same as the average salary of a teacher in the district and over double the 12% raise that will be given area teachers over the next three years. The president of the United Educators of San Francisco union, Dennis Kelly, said he hopes this is a sign that more money for classroom teachers is also on the way.

Carranza was praised by the board for his dedication and his ability to partner with the city’s tech community and philanthropic organizations. Board members also noted that the average time in office for superintendents is 3.2 years, and keeping Carranza in his position was important.

“Consistent and stable leadership is a hallmark of districts where they have really moved the needle on achievement, and given our positive experience with Richard up to this point, there is every reason to keep moving forward,” she said in the statement. “I am thrilled he’s agreed to be our superintendent for another three years.”

Carranza has played a role in lowering the number of suspensions of African-American students in SFUSD by using the restorative practices of the Safe and Supportive Schools resolution passed by the Board of Education in 2013, according to The San Francisco Appeal.  The resolution had as its purpose to create a plan for supporting “positive behavior interventions and trauma sensitive practices” in the city’s public schools, especially to address the skewed number of African American students who have received suspensions.

The resolution was designed to “deepen and extend positive tiered behavioral interventions and alternatives to suspension, increase instructional time, and reduce racial disparities,” according to the school district.

Increased instructional time and reduction of racial disparities are addressed in the resolution. Now, the district has seen a marked decrease in suspensions since 2013.  During the 2011-2012 school year, there were 2,298 suspensions, in the 2013-2014 school year only 1,081. The frequency of suspensions in this school year remains similar to last year’s numbers, however, the number of African-American suspensions is down 17%.

Superintendent Carranza believes that suspensions rarely result in improved behavior and should be used judiciously.

Carranza said that when schools “don’t address the root problems, the same student is often repeatedly suspended” making those students more likely to fall behind in their studies and pushing them further from success.

SFUSD says that middle schools were responsible for 40% of the reductions since middle school principals were first to implement “behavioral response to intervention”,  during which students’ progress is monitored at each intervention stage to establish whether there is a need for more instruction or intervention, some examples of which are: daily check-ins with students; a school-to-home note program; and classroom circles where students are encouraged to talk about their feelings.

Many schools in the district have adopted restorative justice programs which require students to acknowledged what they have done wrong and to make amends to any victims, as well as the school community. Jill Tucker, reporting for the San Francisco Chronicle, adds that schools have begun to look closely at social-emotional development by helping “students deal with anger, conflict, and other problems that could lead to fights or negative behavior.”