Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, speaks at a news conference at Sunset Elementary School updating the status of reopening SFUSD schools at on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, speaks at a news conference at Sunset Elementary School updating the status of reopening SFUSD schools at on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

It’s time for the San Francisco school board to focus

By Gabriela López

Right now, I have tunnel vision. When I played softball in high school, I would put aside any problem that I was dealing with when it came time to step up to the plate. I batted fourth, and when I needed to focus, all the background noise would go silent.

When I became a teacher, it was the same. I found that when I was engaging with students and helping them navigate the challenges in their own lives, my own concerns became secondary. It was not about me. It was about them.

Right now, it’s time for the San Francisco school board to focus. Our goal is to get all of our students back to in-person learning, and stabilize our budget as soon as possible. We are not shying away from these efforts, no matter the distractions.

I’ve talked with all our school board members, and we’re all on the same page. Last week, I met with Dr. Vincent Matthews to discuss the plans to seek a new superintendent, following his announcement that he plans to retire.

We agreed that an inclusive community process for selecting the next superintendent could take up to a year. And that our students’ futures are too important to jeopardize by stealing any bases.

With that in mind, I asked the superintendent to delay his retirement by another year. While I understood his desire to retire, I also felt strongly that his commitment to the wellbeing of our young people has shone through over the past year. And that he was best positioned to bring home this effort on our collective behalf.

He has decades of experience as an educator and a steadfast understanding of the dynamics which shape our school district, both as a native of the City and as a proud product of our public schools system.

I am, therefore, delighted that Dr. Matthews has committed to stay on for another year as the superintendent of our schools. We already have plans to begin the return to in-person learning on April 12th, and we are committed to delivering that experience for all of our students by Fall 2021.

We won’t allow any distractions to shift our focus from reopening. We are committed to ensuring stability for our students and families, and nothing will stand in our way.

Gabriela López is president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

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