Recap: January 29, 2013

We don’t often hold a Board meeting on a 5th Tuesday, but after last week’s agenda-posting glitch, it was lucky there was still another Tuesday left in January for a do-over from January 22.  And what a meeting it was tonight — public comment got very rowdy and I ended up clearing the room twice; finally the Superintendent called in SFPD to help us calm an especially agitated speaker.

I’m not going into all the issues people wanted to talk about — you can watch the meeting once it’s posted if you’re interested.  Generally, people were angry and wanted to tell the Board what was on their minds; that’s fine, but we also need to set reasonable limits on each speaker’s time or the Board will never get to business.  The rules and procedures that govern our meetings seem frustrating (e.g., you have to call in ahead of time or fill out a speaker card before an item is called if you want to speak publicly on that item; your time is set at two minutes or sometimes less, and your mike gets cut off if you ignore the time limit) but they have evolved over time to try to be fair to everyone with business before the Board and to help keep the meetings orderly and efficient.

And there was important business on the Board agenda — the Superintendent’s proposed “bedrock principles” of inclusion were introduced for first reading after a good discussion at the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 15; we also heard an information-packed report from the Bilingual Community Council on all of the issues related to the achievement of our English Learners.  We approved the 2013-14 spending plan for the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) ahead of its hearing at the Board of Supervisors next month.

Finally, we discussed a somewhat controversial decision to raise the fee the school district charges charter schools for the use of district facilities — from 95 cents per square foot to $2.79 per square foot — over two years. The fee will rise to $1.87 in 2013-14 and another 92 cents in 2014-15 to reach $2.79 a square foot.  The fee has not increased in at least five years, but the main reason the fee is increasing is because the district realized it could change its formula to consider interior space as opposed to simply the exterior footprint of a building. Other districts, notably LA Unified, already do this, and charge considerably more than SFUSD is proposing. According to information given to the Board by staff this evening, LAUSD charges its charter schools $6 per square foot to occupy district facilities.

We honored members of the PEEF Advisory Committee (my appointee Bayard Fong will complete his service this month after serving a heroic four years; tonight I appointed Mark Murphy to fill his place — my undying gratitude to them both for their service).  We also honored Peer Resources and Mentoring for Success in honor of National Mentoring Month — I was particularly moved and struck by the easy and affectionate rapport between one mentor and her mentee (matched together for their “sassy personalities”) who shared their stories with the Board and the audience. I also loved hearing Mission HS principal Eric Guthertz talk about his experiences mentoring at-risk 9th graders: a best practice that Mission pioneered.

We also recognized the Early Education Department on the occasion of its 70th Anniversary, and heard information on the upcoming African-American Read-In sponsored by the SF Education Fund — elected officials and volunteers from all over San Francisco will read books by African-American authors and/or illustrators to schoolchildren at 16 schools on Monday morning, Feb. 4.

Oh, and last but not least, happy 100th day of school! I still remember helping my daughters with their count-to-100 projects in Kindergarten and how proud they were of the 100 hats they got to wear that day.

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13 responses to “Recap: January 29, 2013

  1. It is very clear that San Francisco Board of Education isn’t interested charter schools, they fully intend to push them out of SF. This action is designed to shut down them down. There is rent control in SF for apartments, we need to create the same for charters, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

    For those of you who believe charters are getting a “hand out” did your children eat lunch on the ground, outside in the cold for over one year? No but the charter school did. When a small community of 300 kids are told that next year they have to share their school building and playground with 300 new teenagers, which is pretty scary for a 5 year old, they will have to put up with it. When CACS took the Golden Gate School, there were no windows, garbage all over the school, it was inhabitable, and we were charged the lower rent, which our kids stomached all of that environment and persevered.

    Now that the school district has finally renovated the building, we get to pay 900% increase on rent, and the logic is “because they do it in LA”.

    I have a hard time believing that the City of SF wants children to stay here. The application process for schools alone is ridiculous and all the families are fighting to get into the few schools that provide art, music and dance; charter schools are trying to provide the few families left a public education model that they desire, yet the city doesn’t want it. It’s no wonder that SF has the lowest population of children in the nation.

  2. The Board has not formally voted on them (that will happen at the March meeting) but I will post a copy.

  3. Is there some place to get copy of SFUSD’s “bedrock principles” of inclusion?

  4. not all charters are for profit.

  5. How many of the charter schools in San Francisco are for-profit?

    It seems completely reasonable that profit-making entities be charged a fair market rate for the resources they require. And if they can’t make a profit without subsidies, maybe they should re-examine their business model.

  6. charter school kids are public school kids. they are being “subsidized” the way all other public school kids are, except non-charter public school kids don’t have to deal with having to pay rent to the district.

  7. $2.79 a square foot is still about 10% what equivalent office space would cost, so charter schools are being massively subsidized by the district.

  8. Charter is as charter does

    Wow, I didn’t realize how much of a deal charters were getting on rent. Even 2.79 is a deal – actually it’s pretty cheap considering this is SF. Dirt cheap

  9. I just watched the video of the meeting. I see that I’d tuned in last night part way into the discussion of the proposal. In the beginning, Mr. Davis says the did arive at the figure using the specified pro rata calculation method so it would just be a tripling of the cost over 2 years.

    But given the fact that these are public schools, it seems unfair and punitive to to basically pass these costs along the parents of the charter schools, because it will be up to us to try to raise the funds to cover these increases if we don’t want to see programs or teachers cut.

  10. Katy is right, what I heard in the meeting last night is that SFUSD plans to both change the square footage calculation to include multiple floors AND nearly triple the rate/sq. foot.

    From reading 5 CCR § 11969.7 I am under the impression that SFUSD has to base the rate of the facilities cost on a calculation of the pro rata share:
    “…the pro rata share shall not exceed (1) a per-square-foot amount equal to those school district facilities costs that the school district pays for with unrestricted revenues from the district’s general fund, as defined in sections 11969.2(f) and (g) and hereinafter referred to as “unrestricted general fund revenues,” divided by the total space of the school district times (2) the amount of space allocated by the school district to the charter school. The following provisions shall apply to the calculation of the pro rata share of facilities costs:…”

    SFUSD should post the pro rata share calculation details online for public review.

    Overall, the proposal doesn’t seem well thought out or defensible. I don’t think the proposal will stand up to legal challenges. I think it’s also terrible to spring this on the schools in January for school year 2013-2014. That’s a total blindside.

    But what was really disappointing was the adversarial attitude some of the Commissioners have towards the charter schools. I realize I should have done my research better before the election. I certainly won’t be voting for Jill Wynns again.

  11. I HOPE I’ve misunderstood … I always thought “Building footprint” meant : the area where a building meets the ground — the area of the slab. In the case of single-story buildings this would make little difference to a school’s rent, but in multi-story buildings, like my kid’s school — the difference would be hellish. I’ve never heard of people charging per square foot by “footprint” … so yeah, I am hoping “change its formula to consider interior space as opposed to simply the exterior footprint of a building” does not mean what I thought it meant.

  12. No. I think the formula doesn’t expand the amount of square footage being multiplied — if charter school A has 36000 square feet in its current facilities use agreement, it will still have 36000 square feet. The formula simply allows the district to count what goes into the rate in a different way than it did previously.

  13. I missed some of the meeting and the webcast isn’t posted yet …
    just to clarify: not only is SFUSD tripling the rent Charters School pay, SFUSD is changing the formula? So if a building’s “footprint” is 12,000 square feet, but there are 3 floors and it equals about 36,000 square feet inside — SFUSD will charge 2.79 a foot for the 36,000 square feet?!
    In that scenario — it would be a 900 percent increase in rent, right?
    That action could basically close down the charters, who are struggling economically, just as all other SFUSD schools are. Is this a “done deal”? What is the process for the decision making?