With tax time just around the corner, you might be thinking even more than usual about your finances. At the San Francisco Unified School District, finances are also a major topic on our minds.
We’re going through the annual process of figuring out how to make sure the money we receive to educate students is well-purposed to prepare San Francisco’s children for college and careers.
School district funding
Every year, SFUSD receives money from the federal, state and county government. Some of the funds are earmarked for specific purposes, such as building maintenance or professional training for teachers, and other funds can be applied to any educational purpose such as teacher salaries and benefits.
The vast majority of funds come from the State of California and pay for the people who work in our schools. And, we also need money to pay for the people who support all our schools with things like processing payroll and hiring teachers.
Money that’s applied to the day-to-day operations of schools, and is not designated for specific purposes, is called Unrestricted General Fund money. Most of the district’s Unrestricted General Funds pay for teachers and other school site staff. Central administration costs amount to around 4 percent of the SFUSD’s unrestricted budget, which falls within the average for school districts in California.
Expenses are growing
Overall, the district’s expenses are growing—pension contribution costs increased significantly and we have made it a top priority to increase salaries for teachers and other staff in recent years, —all the while state revenues are slowing. Our costs are growing much more quickly than corresponding revenues, which leads to a deficit.
One of the increasing pressures felt throughout California school districts is associated with the ongoing underfunding of special education services. While the share of students who are identified for special education services has increased over the past decade, federal and state funding for special education has remained close to flat.
Our district is committed to meeting the needs of students and to achieving our vision of preparing each and every student to thrive in the 21st century. It’s become clear that we’ll need to make some difficult trade-offs. Over the next few months, we’ll need to work together to balance our budget in ways that allow us to deliver the learning opportunities and support our students most need and deserve.
For more information about the SFUSD budget, go to www.sfusd.edu/about/budget-and-lcap.