Rookie San Francisco Board of Education member Matt Haney prepares to face daunting tasks

When Matt Haney is sworn in as the seventh and newest member of the San Francisco Board of Education in January, he will be entering a challenging world.

“I’m terrified,” Haney said. “But I think I should be terrified because the responsibility is that important.”

The 30-year-old executive director of the University of California Student Association and his new colleagues will face budget deficits and a loss of federal funding dollars for certain programs while attempting to address the student achievement gap, among other tasks.

Haney is a Bay Area native and has dedicated much of his life to education. In addition to attending Albany public schools, he received a master’s degree in education from UC Berkeley and a professional doctorate from
Stanford University.

Haney also has spent the past two years as a member of both the San Francisco Unified School District’s Public Education Enrichment Fund Community Advisory Committee and Restorative Justice Committee.

As a board member, Haney said he plans to listen to students when it comes to his policy decisions.

“These young individuals are the ones who know better than anyone what is working for them,” he said. “When I make a decision, I want to have parents, educators, but also student input.”

Haney said he has already visited 16 schools in preparation for his tenure, a four-year term, and hopes to eventually get to all 114 campuses.

The visits will not only prepare him for the job, he said, but they also will give him a chance to speak with administrators and teachers who are affected by the board’s decisions.

Haney said he has already had numerous questions about funding and how schools can continue to operate at the same level they have  in the past.

The SFUSD currently has a $346 million budget that includes four furlough days, an increase in class sizes and a 1.7 percent cut in money sent directly to schools over the 2011-12 year.

The passage of Proposition 30 in November secured money to fund schools at their current levels, but did not account for cost-of-living increases and other recurring expenses that threaten the district’s budget.

Additionally, the district will no longer receive federal School Improvement Grants, which run out at the end of the school year. Those grants helped place a heavier focus on student achievement by providing resources and professional development for teachers.

Haney said that as an experienced fundraiser, he hopes he can deliver additional revenue sources.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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