School board rejects city’s bid to reverse Swett closure

Despite desperate pleas from parents, staff and community leaders, San Francisco’s school board refused Tuesday night to take $660,000 from The City in exchange for reversing the closure of John Swett Elementary.

The January decision to merge John Swett, which currently uses 81 percent of its permanent classroom space, with nearby John Muir Elementary was supported 4-3 by San Francisco's seven-member school board. None of the four agreed to change their votes Tuesday night.

John Swett's enrollment, currently at 227 students, has dropped 38 percent in the last decade, according to district data. Its performance on standardized test scores, along with John Muir's, is below the district average.

Supporters say John Swett supports a diverse population in a low-income area that struggles with violence and needs the stability of a neighborhood school. The Board of Supervisors recently passed an ordinance that would have provided $660,000 to keep the school open in its current location.

District officials have said recent decisions to close six schools and merge four others into two sites were necessary due to declining enrollment and less-than-expected revenues from the state.

Parent Emmett House said his 7-year-old son, Elijah, was improving academically at John Swett and had already been displaced when the district closed DeAvila Elementary last year.

“He’ll have to meet new friends and teachers all over again. I don’t want him to have to go through that,” House said.

Hours before the meeting, supporters of John Swett were alarmed to see school materials already being dumped out as trash.

Books and school supplies, as well as two xylophones and a saxophone, had been thrown away, according to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who has fought since last year to keep John Swett from being closed at the end of the school year.

District spokeswoman Lorna Ho confirmed that school textbooks and supplies had been thrown out in anticipation of the school's June closure, but said all of the material had been outdated and unusable with the district's current curriculum.

Mirkarimi said the dumping of supplies “echoes the shameful disregard in the issues of John Swett.”

beslinger@examiner.comBay Area NewseducationLocal

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

The admissions process at the academically competitive Lowell High School is set to change this year due to coronavirus restritions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Lowell’s selective admissions process put on hold this year — and more changes may be in the works

School board votes unanimously to use normal student assignment lottery for competitive school

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

San Francisco has failed to reduce traffic deaths enough to meet its Vision Zero goal. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco not on track to meet Vision Zero goals by 2024

Hamstrung by state laws, dwindling budget and limited resources, SFMTA tries to chart path forward

San Francisco will allow bars selling drinks, and not food, to begin serving customers outdoors under health guidelines going into effect next month. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF becomes first Bay Area County to move to least restrictive COVID-19 category

Change to ‘yellow’ will allow more indoor dining and fitness, reopening non-essential offices

City officials want to install more red light cameras but the process is costly and time consuming. (Shutterstock)
Transit officials push for more red light cameras

SFMTA says ‘capital crunch’ and dragging timelines make expanding the program cumbersome

Most Read