San Francisco has long been considered at the forefront in seeking funding for children's services, and November's election will be no exception.
For the first time, a charter amendment that would reauthorize the Children's Fund to continue supporting youth services and the Public Education Enrichment Fund that provides millions of dollars to public-school programs has been combined into a single ballot measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, Proposition C.
The initiative would also create an Our Children, Our Families Council, as well as separate the existing rainy-day reserve into a city rainy-day reserve and school rainy-day reserve.
The election marks the first time PEEF would be reauthorized since it was first approved by voters in 2004. The enrichment fund — set to expire on June 30 — requires The City to contribute specified funds to school programs each year, which amounted to $77.1 million for fiscal year 2013-14.
The proposal would extend the PEEF for 26 years, until June 30, 2041, and would continue sending a third of the funding to arts, music, sports and library programs within the San Francisco Unified School District, a third to universal preschool programs and a third to the district for general-education purposes.
SFUSD officials were quick to emphasize PEEF's necessity in public schools.
“PEEF has enabled [the] SFUSD to provide all of our students with essential academic and student support programs to help them succeed in school,” said Kathy Fleming, the district's PEEF supervisor. “Because of PEEF, [the] SFUSD has been able to provide programs that other districts in the state had to cut during tough economic times.”
Prior to PEEF, there were no credentialed physical education teachers at elementary schools in the district. As of the 2012-13 school year, 68 percent of kindergarten through fifth-grade schools had PE programs.
Additionally, the number of full-time teacher-librarians nearly tripled — from about 20 in 2004-05 to about 60 in 2012-13 — following PEEF's implementation.
Prop. C would also rename the Children's Fund — set to expire June 30, 2016 — to the Children and Youth Fund, and extend it for 25 years, until June 30, 2041.
If passed, Prop. C would raise the property-tax set-aside for the Children's Fund from 3 cents for each $100 of assessed property value by a quarter-cent each year for four years until it reached 4 cents in fiscal year 2018-19, and remain at 4 cents thereafter.
Margaret Brodkin, who served as director of the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families from 2004-09 and is widely credited with establishing the Children's Fund, said the difference the money has made for The City's youths in the past two decades is immeasurable.
“It has funded services for thousands of children,” Brodkin said. “It has kept children safe and healthy and occupied after school and allowed parents to work, and youth to learn the skills in becoming employed and employable and financially independent.”