City supervisors are calling for an expansion of free summer programs for elementary age kids. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City supervisors are calling for an expansion of free summer programs for elementary age kids. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisors urge city to provide free summer programs for all SFUSD students

San Francisco supervisors on Monday announced a proposal to expand summer programs and provide them free to all San Francisco Unified School District elementary students.

The San Francisco Summer Programs, Learning, and Activities for Youth, or PLAY initiative, was announced Monday by Supervisors Connie Chan, Matt Haney, Myrna Melgar and Hillary Ronen. It would extend fee waivers for summer programs to all San Francisco Unified School District elementary students.

“This public health crisis has disproportionately hurt the working families in San Francisco, so as the City moves towards recovery from the pandemic, this program will ease one of the many burdens that working families face,” said Chan, who first drafted the legislation. “It is time for our City to step in, work together and figure out services and programming to support our kids and their families to get through the detrimental hardship the pandemic has imposed on them.”

The supervisors will introduce legislation Tuesday that would appropriate $15 million to pay for half the estimated cost of the additional programs and hope to persuade private donors to cover the remaining costs. The City Controller recently announced an expected $125 million surplus this fiscal year, which was previously projected to be a $115 million deficit.

The proposal also calls for the creation of a single point of entry for SFUSD elementary school families to register for summer programming.

“With students facing increased learning loss and isolation, access to summer camps, enrichment opportunities, and wrap-around services will be more important than ever,” Haney said. “Children desperately need opportunities to safely be together again. The Summer PLAY initiative will eliminate barriers, whether cost or capacity, to ensure every kid in our city has a spot in a summer program.”

As envisioned, the initiative would allow families to choose between programs with more educational support, provided by the Department of Children Youth and Their Families, and programs with more recreational and outdoor opportunities, provided by the Recreation and Parks Department.

“Every year we try to provide as much summer camp as resources and health restrictions will allow,” said Tamara Aparton, Rec and Park spokesperson.

Aparton added that while some programs are indoors, they are trying to emphasize those that are outdoors. Rec and Park offers a broad array of programs, including art, archery, surfing, sports and dance.

“Whether it’s developing physical skills or artistic capabilities, we’ve got a little something for everyone,” Aparton said.

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