Budget comments

I am experimenting with a different comments policy than I have had heretofore on this blog. For now, individual posts will not have comments enabled but I will periodically, at least every week or so, post a comments thread where people can respond to posts.  This post is  a “budget comments” thread for readers to respond to Part I or Part II of my posts on the 2009-10 proposed budget.

I still intend to moderate comments, though I would like to be as transparent and responsive as I can. I see this blog as a way of informing constituents about the inner workings of educational policymaking in San Francisco. But it is still my blog and so I don’t think I need to provide a forum for people who want to 1) insult me, 2)transmit misinformation, 3)hijack the discussion. So I will use those yardsticks and make my own calls about which comments to publish and which to delete. Thanks for reading!

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One response to “Budget comments

  1. Thank you for your explanation of the budget situation. I for one appreciate the dedication you bring to the Board, your efforts to educate the community as well as the quality of the decisions you’ve made.

    I am not an expert on finance, but I would like to make a few comments. First, I suspect that the shortfall may be significantly larger than 30-60 million, given the constant revisions downward of the State’s financial situation. LAUSD, which has about 12 times as many students, just predicted a budget shortfall of 1 billion for 2012.

    Just to put this in perspective, my children attend a school with about 500 students and it has an SSC budget of just over 2 million. If you have a shortfall of 50 million that is the entire budget of about 25 schools of that size. That’s about a quarter of the total enrollment in the district. You can see what kind of extreme situation this could present to the SFUSD community.

    As an afterthought, this makes me wonder why the Board was willing to spend 3 plus million on NUA, which I know you voted against. I realize the money appropriated had some strings attached, but the discussion around this contract did not seem to have the financial meltdown as a backdrop for some strange reason. Why didn’t the financial officers have anything to say then? Certainly, we could have found a more fundamental use for this money. PD at this juncture is a luxury – not essential to school function.

    You also mentioned that the increase in K class size to 22 was the most difficult decision that SFUSD had to make in the last year. I’m a little confused about this. I remember that Mr. Garcia had a press release about the increase. My understanding, and correct me if I am wrong, was that he made this decision – not the Board. I was surprised at the time because it seemed to me to be the kind of policy change that the Board would want to consider. It was a process that appeared to bypass any public comment. This made me question the Superintendent’s genuine interest in community involvement and the right of public review. As you said, this was the biggest decision of the year and even the Board was left out of the process.

    Even if the deficit comes in on the low end at 30 million, it is still going to be really painful as you pointed out. Having reviewed many school budgets, I would encourage the Board to really take a look at some of the expenses at schools. I see repeated examples of consultants hired for purposes that are not made clear either in the budget or in the BSC. I believe that there is tremendous waste in the WSF and any attempt to cut back essential programs should only come after a full audit of the individual school budgets.

    Given the lack of transparency that SFUSD’s Central Office has admitted to in its current BSC, we cannot afford to look the other way. Every dollar has got to count and WSF budgeting cannot be a sacred cow. Everything needs to be on the table.