The sun will come out tomorrow

I’m afraid Tuesday evening’s post on our looming $113 million deficit for 2010-11 and 2011-12 (combined) left a lot of people feeling depressed and worried. It is depressing, no question, and none of the options in front of the school district for closing the gap are at all palatable. Still, there are a few bright spots in the generally gloomy skies:

  • Our funding for sports, libraries, arts and music (SLAM) is generally protected, because it is a set aside under the city budget. Next year’s SLAM funding is estimated to be $15 million even after the City pulls its 25 percent “trigger” (allowed because the City is facing its own budget crisis), and it funds music, art and P.E. teachers, programs and supplies at each school level, and librarians for district schools.
  • Discussions with the Mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors continue over going to the voters to secure additional revenues to protect our local schools from the crisis in Sacramento. If these discussions are productive, and we can convince voters to pass a revenue measure, our budget shortfall would be reduced significantly.
  • The district administration and United Educators of San Francisco are working together to see if we can find funds to offer a one-time retirement bonus to staff at the upper end of the pay scale. We saw a lower-than-normal number of teachers and paraprofessionals retire last year, so there’s a possibility that there are staff out there who are already considering retirement — this one-time bonus might sweeten the deal for those staff members. It would also lower our overall payroll and save some jobs of less-senior teachers and paraprofessionals.
  • Discussions about the budget are happening earlier and more comprehensively than usual, in an effort to involve the community as broadly as possible in the decision-making. On Jan. 26 (this coming Tuesday), the Superintendent will offer a list of budget options under consideration, and has pledged that at least some of the worst decisions will be made before we have to send out our “March 15” letters informing staff that their jobs may be eliminated next year — hopefully decreasing the overall number of these awful letters.  
  • Finally, don’t forget that we could get a Race to the Top grant! For all my grousing about the questionable policy requirements RtTT contains, at the end of the day it would still be nice to have the money.

All of this isn’t much in the way of cheer, I know, but at least it’s something.  And I have faith that we will come through this, somehow. Three years from now the schools will be standing, there will be learning going on, and hopefully, brighter skies ahead.

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3 responses to “The sun will come out tomorrow

  1. The NUA has an evaluation structure built into its program; many of the protected large expenditures programs do not. Some of these same programs have been in place for several years; funded, but not shown to be effective -no evaluation process. I wonder why the administrators have a budget presentation on 1/26; the first community presentation is late February. I don’t consider this transparency. What “reform” programs are being suggested for “race to the top” funding.? Evaluation?

  2. Katy is right!

    But also… cross-posting from elsewhere: Where is our effective school fundraising foundation?

    I know that the true solution is that we dismantle Prop. 13* and transform our
    culture of “you’re on your own” to a “we’re in this together” philosophy. Our
    schools need to be adequately — amply — supported with public funding, with
    our wealthy corporations and individuals paying their full share.

    But also… now we REALLY need the effective, single, high-profile, ubiquitous
    school fundraising foundation model that the high-income suburban districts
    have.

    We have the San Francisco School Alliance
    http://www.ecclf.org/

    … and the merged San Francisco Education Fund/San Francisco School Volunteers
    http://www.sfedfund.org/

    … and the Silver Giving Foundation,
    http://silvergiving.org/

    We really need just one, and it needs to be everywhere in the community,
    everywhere you look, making itself the first choice of every high-net-worth
    individual, business and corporation in San Francisco. It needs to be constantly
    making the need for supporting our schools clear to everyone.

    I’ve had it explained to me by an insider why that’s not happening. But it just
    plain needs to happen. WHAT CAN WE DO?

    *Yes, I well understand the situation behind Prop. 13 — I may well be the only
    person on this listserve who who was a California voter in 1978 when it passed.
    Yes, homeowners were being assessed rising property taxes on their skyrocketing
    home values. There were other proposed solutions besides effectively destroying
    our public services and infrastructure.

  3. Cancel the 3.2 million dollar NUA contract …

    3.2 million here, 3.2 million there … soon you’re talking REAL money!