This evening is shaping up to be quite busy — we’ll issue a final vote on the Superintendent’s proposed Local Hire policy and discuss the newly-introduced district budget, as well as the state budget deal announced earlier today.
Local hire has been in the works for many months, and last week the Board had an intense discussion on the final proposal at the monthly Committee of the Whole. The Superintendent and staff have incorporated a lot of Board feedback on how the policy should be structured and overseen, and the main components in the proposal the Board will vote on tonight (assuming there are no major amendments) are:
- Primary responsibility for implementation of the local hire policy will reside with contractors bidding on any Proposition A 2011 Bond projects with a contract value of $1 million or more;
- Contractors must agree to hire at least 25 percent local residents in each of the seven major construction and building trades (plumbers, iron workers, carpenters, laborers, electricians, painters and carpeting/soft-floor layers) when bidding on 2011 bond projects — if, after verification, they have not satisfied this requirement they will be subject to a number of suggested sanctions or remedies for non-compliance;
- Compliance with the district’s local hire policy will be reviewed biannually by the Board’s Buildings and Grounds committee;
- The above and other provisions of the district’s local hire policy will be implemented through a negotiated Project Labor Agreement for the 2011 Facility Bond program.
This has been a challenging proposal to work on, since school bond construction projects are complex and governed by a whole set of arcane laws, rules and labor agreements. In addition, our bond program is truly a jewel in the SFUSD crown — it’s pretty much unheard of for a school building program to be issued an audit with no findings whatsoever, and it shows how well-managed and efficient our $1 billion bond program has been over the years. Some, including our citizen’s bond oversight committee, fear that a local hire policy will raise our costs and decrease efficient management of the program, but it’s also true that the economic benefits of millions of dollars in financing provided by local taxpayers should find their way back into the local economy. In the end, no one completely knows what the effects of a fully-implemented local hire policy at the City or the school district will be, and the job of the Board in future years will be to make sure we don’t do anything to diminish the excellence of our bond program.
On to the 2013-14 budget: School districts are required to submit a balanced budget to the state by June 30 or face consequences, and tonight the Superintendent will introduce his proposal for first reading and discussion by the Board. The document is a work-in-progress, but I am very pleased with the work the staff has done to make the budget document a little more user friendly. The first 36 pages of Volume 1 are a great overview of how the district spends money, where revenues come from, and generally how the school district is organized — the rest of the book breaks out various Central Office department budgets. (Volume 2 contains school site and early education department budgets). We’ll conduct a hearing on the district’s plans for “flexible” Tier III categorical funds (read the overview section referenced above for a full explanation of what that means) and also hear about the budget deal just reached today between the Governor and the Legislature on the Local Control Funding Formula. In a nutshell, the deal gives districts a higher base grant but reduces some of the supplemental grants the governor had initially proposed. The controversial “concentration grant,” for districts with high concentrations of low-income students, will remain, but the threshold for qualifying for a concentration grant will rise. I’m not clear exactly on how the deal will shake out for SFUSD, but we’ll hear a staff presentation tonight. In conjunction with our budget discussion, I have introduced a resolution asking the Board and the district to formally support the Local Control Funding Formula proposal, so we’ll also vote on that.