To help offset a significant deficit, the San Francisco Unified School District welcomes contributions. (Screenshot Spark* SF Public Schools)

To help offset a significant deficit, the San Francisco Unified School District welcomes contributions. (Screenshot Spark* SF Public Schools)

Donations will help SFUSD bring students back to classrooms safely

Nonprofit Spark* SF Public Schools has set up a targeted fund

.

One of the many things I am especially grateful for this year is that the voters of San Francisco keep showing up to support public schools.

In this most recent election, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition J, which will allow San Francisco Unified School District to keep providing the teacher salary increase that we started paying two years ago. Prop. J was placed on the ballot to replace a tax which was passed by San Francisco voters in 2018 with a lower tax. The 2018 tax passed with a majority, but not a supermajority, and taxpayers have been paying it ever since. However, a lawsuit challenging the majority voter threshold is keeping the money tied up until the case is resolved, so SFUSD hasn’t received the taxpayer money.

With the passage of Prop. J, funds can be spent starting next year regardless of the legal challenge. The new $288 parcel tax will replace the $320 parcel tax approved in 2018. Funds will mostly be used to keep paying for raises for teachers and other educators and also help schools invest in technology.

Voter support for San Francisco’s public schools could not come at a better time. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted our economy. Both The City and the state are seeing significant losses, and the current financial outlook for SFUSD has gone from bad to worse as a result of the pandemic.

Schools were already facing severe funding challenges and struggling to balance budgets prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Those same funding challenges remain, and they are only becoming more severe. The pandemic has brought about millions in new unanticipated costs for SFUSD.

For the first time in many years, SFUSD is facing a negative fund balance, unless expenditures are cut significantly or new revenues materialize. We are looking to identify immediate and ongoing solutions because we know that with ongoing deficits — like SFUSD’s — the sooner there are structural solutions in place, the better.

There are many new safety measures that will have to be in place before we can reopen school buildings, such as implementing smaller class sizes to achieve stable cohorts to limit the spread of the virus, setting up a testing program and adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and increasing student health support and student emotional support services.

If you’d like to help support SFUSD in preparing to return safely to in-person learning when it is possible to do so, SFUSD’s nonprofit fundraising partner Spark* SF Public Schools has set up a Return Safely Fund. Donations will go directly toward helping the district prepare for a safe return to in-person learning.

Vincent Matthews is the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco Unified School District. He is a guest columnist.

educationeducation fundingsan francisco news

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

(Robert Greene/Tribune News Service)
As tensions grow over vaccinations and politics, California lawmakers face threats from public

Anti-vaccine speakers hint at gun violence during routine budget hearing at state Capitol

Dr. Martin Luther King in Sam Pollard’s ‘MLK/FBI’. (Courtesy of IFC Films/TNS)
The superb documentary ‘MLK/FBI’ clearly connects the past to our troubling present

Justin Chang Los Angeles Times Among the many archival materials excerpted in… Continue reading

Toni Isabella, a counselor at Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, finds helpful assistance from service dog Barker Posey.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Toni Isabella: Helping people indoors and out recover from addiction’s dark side

Counselor supports holistic, progressive approach to healing

Most Read