Rigidity of surplus-property funds spending may loosen

The San Francisco Unified School District</a> would have more spending options with money gained from selling its surplus property under state legislation that is moving through Sacramento.

Under current law, school districts must use all sales revenue from such property sales for building and other capital improvements, such as structural maintenance projects.

The proposed bill, authored by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, whose district includes San Francisco, would allow the SFUSD to fund one-time purchases, such as new computers.

Of the district’s 177 properties, 20 percent are deemed surplus spaces because they’re no longer required for instruction, according to SFUSD documents. Although district officials have not quantified a value for those properties, one building at 700 Font Blvd. — the former site of the district’s School of the Arts — was auctioned off for $20 million in November.

Because Ma’s bill specifically details a six-year period stretching from July 2006 to June 2012, the district could use proceeds from the Font Boulevard sale under the new proposed capacities.

The district is interested in using some of the money from the property sales to fund technological enhancements, such as installing wireless Internet setups and purchasing more computers, district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.

The bill would not act as a panacea for the district’s woeful budget outlook, Blythe said.

The district is looking at a $40 million projected shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year due to education spending cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mayor Gavin Newsom has pledged to spend as much $31 million from The City’s rainy-day fund to help make up the district’s deficit, but the actual dedicated amount won’t be determined until mid-May.

“This bill is not a stop-gap fix,” Blythe said. “We can’t go out and use this money to pay teachers’ salaries.”

Blythe said the state regulates spending from property sales because it doesn’t want school districts dependent on revenue that could fluctuate from year to year.

SFUSD board President Mark Sanchez said it’s always in the district’s best interest to hold on to all its assets, but if faced with a daunting budget shortfall again, selling off properties may be the only option.

Approved unanimously by the Assembly Education Committee, AB 1934 will now move on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “I think it’s unfortunate that we’re always fighting for Prop. 98 funding,” Ma said, referring to a 1998 measure that requires the state to maintain minimum funding levels for education. “It would be nice if it wasn’t on the chopping block every year.”

wreisman@examiner.com

Just Posted

SF’s newest subway may emerge on the West Side

San Francisco’s sleepy West Side — from the Richmond District to Parkmerced… Continue reading

Treasure Island residents could win new displacement protections

Supervisor working to give all current residents a chance to move into new development

Bay Bridge fire blocks Friday night traffic

UPDATE 11:35 p.m.: The fire is out, Caltrans is reporting. Three of… Continue reading

SF lawmaker proposes car-free Tenderloin streets

Proposal comes after a spate of traffic deaths in the neighborhood.

SF to open seventh job center in ‘overlooked’ neighborhoods

Oceanview, Merced Heights, Ingleside area has unemployment rates much higher than the city average

Most Read