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SF school officials hope Trump’s budget proposal fails

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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for government spending eliminates up to $132 million for after-school programs among other cuts to education. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would likely impact funding for the most vulnerable students in San Francisco, according to school district officials in The City.

The San Francisco Unified School District received $69.4 million from the federal government this fiscal year for specific programs serving low-income students and students with special needs, according to SFUSD spokesperson Gentle Blythe. The funding covers programs such as free and reduced lunch and Title 1 funds for impoverished schools.

School district officials have yet to determine how much of that funding could be compromised, according to Blythe. The district has a total operating budget of $823 million.

“At this time, it appears as though if any of the federally funded programs were cut it would effect our most vulnerable students,” Blythe said. “We hope that his proposed budget does not become a reality.”

Trump’s proposal would eliminate up to $132 million for after-school programs and $241 million for training principals and teachers in California, according to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The proposal would also set aside $250 million for private schools through a nationwide voucher program.

“These devastating cuts shortchange our schools,” Torlakson said in a statement. “By failing to invest in our students, we fail our society, our economy, and our nation,” he said. “This proposal takes us backward, jeopardizing California’s progress in improving our schools and preparing students for college and the 21st century economy.”

The district would likely have to tap into the unrestricted general fund or find additional state funding to pay for programs that experience federal funding cuts.

But the proposed federal budget cuts come at a time when state funding is not increasing as rapidly as previous years since the Great Recession. With a housing crisis in San Francisco, district officials say they are also pinching every penny in the unrestricted general fund to negotiate raises for teachers.

Board of Education President Shamann Walton condemned the budget proposal overall.

“He is cutting everything, except defense and homeland security,” Walton said in a text message. “I haven’t seen the detailed education budget yet. He is draconian.”

Torlakson plans to visit Washington, D.C., this week to urge Congress to reject the budget proposal.

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