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SF schools to flourish with Proposition A funding

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The San Francisco Unified School District plans to transform this block with a 900-student high school, an arts institute for every student in the district and a state-of-the-art theater with a capacity of 1,600. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)

As we head into our holiday season, I have two words for San Francisco citizens: Thank you.

Our city’s voters came together to pass Proposition A — which will fix and strengthen our public school buildings and grounds — with an overwhelming majority. This means the San Francisco Unified School District can continue to improve our school buildings.

The SFUSD’s Bond Program is meticulously run by a professional management team at the school district. Under their supervision, construction and renovation of our beautiful buildings has stayed on schedule and on budget.

And to be sure, the program is monitored by an independent Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. In fact, annual audits have found that we have met or exceeded all requirements and are in excellent financial standing.

This district-wide work includes replacing aging portable buildings on school yards with new classroom buildings and completing seismic earthquake upgrades. It also means we are improving accessibility for students with disabilities. We are modernizing classroom interiors and restrooms. We are upgrading the data and technology infrastructure at school sites. And, of course, we continue to upgrade fire and life safety systems.

But that’s not all: We are able to continue growing our highly successful green school yard program. It’s the largest in the nation. We are also planning to build new schools to meet expected growth in enrollment and a world-class arts education center.

One more thing: With our strong financial management, we have been able to sell and refinance bonds at lower percentages than originally expected. This means we have saved city taxpayers millions of dollars in interest over the life of the bonds.

San Franciscans have consistently recognized the vital role our public schools play in shaping our city by supporting our bond program. Proposition A was supported by a broad coalition of groups and organizations, including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Democratic Party, SPUR, the San Francisco Labor Council and technology industry leaders.

The measure was endorsed by Mayor Ed Lee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, all of our state legislators and county supervisors and dozens of community leaders and elected officials across San Francisco.

As you’re making your way around The City this holiday season, you may very well pass many of our schools. Slow down — 15 mph; it’s the law when school is in session! — and take a look at our work, past and present. With your support, we are keeping our schools safe, modern, and accessible and creating beautiful environments for learning.

Thank you, San Francisco.

Myong Leigh is interim superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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