SFUSD confronts a major budget challenge

It would be an understatement to say things have changed a lot since March. I hate to share more bad news at a time when bad news is everywhere. The good news is –– you can be part of the solution.

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 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 of new unanticipated costs for SFUSD.

For the first time in many years, SFUSD no longer has a fund balance. 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.

As this crisis has unfolded, it has been abundantly clear that schools are — and always will be — the centers of communities and the beacons of hope for many students and families. It’s time to fund and support them. You can help.

Contact your legislators

Let your federal, local and state elected officials know that adequate funding for public schools must be a priority, even –– and especially –– during difficult times. A second federal investment in education is needed immediately to assist schools now and through the coming months. Whether remote or in-person, SFUSD will need even more funding to serve students during the pandemic. The California School Boards Association has set up this handy link with messages to share with state and federal officials.


SFUSD’s non-profit fundraising partner Spark SF Public Schools has set up a COVID-19 Response Fund. Donations go toward providing three meals a day (even during the summer) and technology access for low-income students to keep learning online.

Learn more about the SFUSD budget and share input

Each year, through a community input process the district develops a plan (called the LCAP) and then my staff and I develop a budget proposal based on the plan and the amount of funding SFUSD can expect from the state and other sources. Our Board of Education reviews the proposal, and ultimately decides whether or not to approve or amend it.

The SFUSD Budget and LCAP as well as upcoming Board of Education meetings are posted on the website and we welcome your comments.

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

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