SFUSD passes austere budget as cuts loom

Despite lingering uncertainty about the outcome of labor negotiations and the amount of state funding that will be available after voters have their say on proposed tax increases in November, the San Francisco school board unanimously approved an austere but balanced 2012-13 budget Tuesday night.

“I think that we’d be less than honest with the public if we didn’t tell you that we wish this was a better budget,” said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia, who is retiring after this month. “We’re victims of circumstance in a state that is too cheap to fund education for itschildren.”

The budget includes four furlough days for teachers, a slight increase in class sizes for third graders, and a 1.7 percent cut in the money sent directly to schools. Board members also learned Tuesday that things will get worse than expected if California voters do not approve proposed tax increases that will be on the ballot in November.

The SFUSD budget assumes that a tax increase promoted by Gov. Jerry Brown will pass, Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh said at the board meeting. Should the proposition fail, the state will cut funding for the SFUSD by as much as $24 million, or 6.6 percent of the district’s discretionary funding. To help districts cope with such substantial cuts, the state is considering allowing them to trim days from the school year, which could result in just 160 total, down from 180 before the financial crisis.

“We do have a serious issue with the prospect of these taxes not passing in November,” Leigh said.

In other action

  • The school board approved a charter for a new high school to be run by the Knowledge Is Power Program, better known as KIPP. The vote was 6-1, with Jill Wynns the sole board member opposed.
  • A national charter chain, KIPP has operated two middle schools in The City for nearly a decade, and both boast high test scores. The new high school will open for ninth-graders in 2013 and add an additional class each year until 2016.
  • The school board voted to rent out two unused properties.
  • A vacant school building at 1155 Page St. will be leased to the private French American International School, which will operate a preschool and kindergarten facility there. The building has been vacant for six years and is uninhabitable, a district spokeswoman said. The private school has agreed to pay nominal rent for 20 years and to invest about $5 million to rehabilitate the site.
  • Empty office space at 1520 Howard St. will be leased to The Arc of San Francisco for $70,000 a year. The organization will use the space to house programs for intellectually disabled young adults.


Budget by the numbers


  • $597 million in expenditures
  • $362 million in discretionary expenditures
  • $567 million in revenue

Selected increases

  • $9 million for the county Office of Education’s special-education services
  • $1.2 million for instructional support
  • $738,000 for retiree benefits
  • $630,000 for central administration

Selected cuts

  • $9 million in salary cuts
  • $3.7 million reduction in funds sent to schools
  • $535,000 cut from operational support

Source: SFUSD



Winless in Seattle: What we learned from Niners’ loss

It started out as a madcap affair in Seattle on Sunday, loaded with tips and picks, tightropes and trickery.

By Al Saracevic
‘King Tides’ give San Francisco a watery glimpse of its future

City seeks solutions as coastal flooding could become the new normal

By Jessica Wolfrom
Dire water warnings confront San Francisco and beyond

‘We will face challenges that I don’t think modern California has ever really seen before’

By Jessica Wolfrom