You are receiving this email newsletter because you are a subscriber of Education Slice (formerly Principal News) or you signed up for our email newsletter on our site.
24th January 2023
IRS raises teacher tax deduction ceiling
For the first time since the Internal Revenue Service enacted the educator expense deduction in 2002, the agency has raised it from $250 to $300 for the current tax filing season. K-12 educators who work a minimum of 900 hours during the school year will benefit and among the items deductible are classroom materials, including technology equipment and any COVID-19 protective items recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Classroom teachers use around $550 of their own money each year to provide their students with basic supplies, according to data from, prompting financial experts to complain that the deduction broadly falls short. Pauline Stavrou, a tax attorney for Frost Tax Law in Baltimore, comments: “The amount is just so small, it’s a joke.”
Selma USD teachers claim district owes thousands of dollars
The Selma Unified Teachers Association has accused Selma USD of exceeding class-size maximums, with up to 50 students in one independent-study class at one time. The case stems from two educators each regularly having up to 47 students who were taking independent-study courses last school year; once, a teacher had 50 students, the teachers association alleges. In lieu of hiring another educator, the school district saves money by “placing students in overcrowded conditions that limit teachers' effectiveness,” the teachers' association claims. It's demanding over $25,000 in unpaid compensation for the teachers. Based on the collective bargaining contract in Selma Unified, the class-size cap is 32 students for middle and high school. The contract doesn't differentiate class maximums for independent study. If a class size will be over the max, the Selma contract instructs the district to obtain a waiver, saying the teacher agrees to have additional students. Depending on students' grade levels, there are formulas outlined in the contract to calculate the extra pay for the added work of having more students. The additional pay formula considers the number of students who are over the class-size maximum and the number of days the teacher had those extra students. One teacher submitted timesheets for $15,303 but was compensated $3,060, the teachers' association said, and the other teacher submitted $16,996 but was paid $3,399, leaving a difference of $25,839. An arbitration judge will soon settle the matter. 
S.F. middle school faces complaint over 'staffing chaos'
Civil rights law firm Public Advocates has filed a complaint against San Francisco USD over the “staffing chaos” at Marina Middle School, describing the conditions as the worst they’ve seen in over 20 years. A staffing shortage has left the school with several vacancies, including English, Mandarin immersion and special education teachers, according to the complaint, while teachers on long-term leave have left classrooms with a string of substitutes because labor agreements prevent the district from filling the positions with permanent replacements. District officials said they were reviewing the complaint, but noted that the San Francisco public schools see several hundred teacher vacancies every year that must be filled out of about 3,500 teaching positions. “Marina is experiencing staffing vacancies consistent with other schools and we have been actively working to fill vacant positions,” said spokesperson Laura Dudnick. “We have qualified candidates in the pipeline who we hope to hire to fill most of the vacancies at Marina soon.”
Homes proposed for old Oceanside elementary property
A developer has proposed building 100 three-story townhomes and 32 two-story, single-family homes on the site of Oceanside USD's former Garrison Elementary School, which has been closed since 2019. The 8.3-acre Garrison campus, north of Oceanside Boulevard, south of Mesa Drive and west of El Camino Real, closed four years ago, and merged with San Luis Rey Elementary School. The Garrison campus had several large sinkholes caused by a deteriorated storm drain system, and district officials estimated the storm drain system alone would cost $13m to replace.
States working to resolve special educator shortage
Several positive developments are emerging from the crisis in special education teacher shortages. States are looking to wean themselves off noncompliant special education emergency licenses, expand pathways that are compliant and create innovative practices that improve teaching practices, meet federal requirements and overcome teacher shortages. Meanwhile, state and local special education offices are teaming up with advocacy groups and higher education institutions for solutions. Alternative licensure programs have also proven successful. One approach in Indiana for example is the Aspiring Statewide Special Education Teacher, or ASSET, program, which supports licensed educators in adding a special education teaching credential. The state is using $238,234 in federal COVID-19 funds for this program and, in total, from July 1 2022 to December 31 2022, the state has issued 1,102 alternative special education licenses in mild interventions, intense interventions, blind/low vision, and deaf/hard of hearing specialty areas. Special education is one of the highest need teacher positions. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 45% of schools with at least one teacher vacancy said they were missing special educators last winter. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data predicted an annual need for 37,600 special educators between 2021 and 2031. Many of those openings, the bureau estimates, will result from teachers switching to other occupations or leaving the labor force.
Oakland staff criticise decision to keep schools open
Oakland USD's decision to keep five under-enrolled and low-performing schools from closing at the end of the school year will have dire financial and academic consequences on classrooms across the district, according to a staff analysis of the last-minute reversal. With a new president and a newly sworn in majority of members against school closures, the board rescinded the decision to close the schools during a special meeting, with little advance notice, in early January, violating its own policy that requires the board to review the fiscal impact of any decision prior to a vote. Instead, the board is expected to review the fiscal and academic impact after the fact at its meeting Wednesday. “The District did not have sufficient resources to fully support all of its existing schools at the level that the District sought to fund them and that the schools needed in order to offer a high quality education,” according to the report, referring to the initial decision to close schools. “Therefore, in addition to addressing its structural deficit, the District sought to reduce the number of schools it operated so that the remaining schools could be ‘properly resourced and staffed.'” Because the schools are so small, with too few kindergarten students in a few cases to fill even one classroom, the district spends a disproportionate amount to keep them open, according to the analysis. The analysis also noted that the decision to keep the schools open comes late into the enrollment process for the fall, requiring a separate application process to add them back into the system. It also means that 751 students from the six schools will no longer be eligible for an Opportunity Ticket, giving them priority admission to the school of their choice. Many families have already applied for fall placement based on that ticket, with the on-time application cycle from Dec. 1 to February 10th.
New survey challenges schools' education priorities
Many adults in the Unites States feel that K-12 schools should place a higher priority on preparing students for careers and "basic life skills" rather than college readiness, according to a new nationally-representative survey entitled "Purpose of Education Index" by the Massachusetts-based Populace think. In 2019, Americans ranked students being prepared to enroll in a college or university as the 10th highest priority for K-12 schools. In 2022, that fell to 47th out of 57 total priorities. The results vary significantly by race however. Preparing students for college ranked much higher as a priority among Black, Hispanic, and Asian survey respondents. Asian respondents ranked it the highest at No. 9, and Black and Hispanic respondents both ranked it as the 22nd highest priority. White respondents ranked it 46th. Survey respondents said teaching students practical skills, such as learning how to manage personal finances, should be a priority for schools. They also identified teaching students how to “think critically to problem solve and make decisions,” “demonstrate character,” such as honesty and ethics, achieve basic reading, writing, and math skills, and have access to learning supports as the top five priorities.

Education Slice delivers the latest, most relevant and useful intelligence to key educators, administrators, decision makers and teaching influencers, each weekday morning..

Content is selected to an exacting brief from hundreds of influential media sources and summarised by experienced journalists into an easy-to-read digest email. Education Slice enhances the performance and decision-making capabilities of individuals and teams by delivering the relevant news, innovations and knowledge in a cost-effective way.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities within Education Slice, please get in touch via email sales team

This e-mail has been sent to [[EMAIL_TO]]

Click here to unsubscribe