Congratulations to Matt Haney and Shamann Walton, who were unanimously elected President and Vice President, respectively, to the Board of Education for 2016. Other news from today’s meeting:
- The Parent Advisory Council has done significant outreach to families that are usually underrepresented as a community engagement project for the new Our Children Our Families Council (the advisory body created as part of Prop. C in 2014, the charter amendment that linked and extended the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund). They presented their findings to the Board tonight.
- We heard the annual and five year reports on our Developer Impact Fees — wow. Under state law, we are allowed to levy impact fees to real estate developers to mitigate the impact of new residential and commercial developments on school district facilities. San Francisco’s real estate market has been booming for a few years, so we’ve raised the fees twice since 2013. For the year ended June 30, 2015, we received $8 million in fees; and that was before the latest fee increase took effect July 1, 2015. We should expect the 2015-16 total to be even higher. Developer impact fees can’t be used for programs or salaries — they can only be spent on facilities and must be used to mitigate the impact of growth. So, for example, we can use the funds to build a new wing at a school or modernize an aging facility to accommodate more students. Projects underway at Lowell HS, Junipero Serra ES and several Early Education sites are all financed by developer impact fees.
- Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer and I introduced our resolution expanding access to Mandarin and other World Language programs;
- President Haney and Vice President Walton introduced a resolution supporting programs for children of incarcerated parents (and maybe the only SFUSD Board resolution that will ever reference the TV shows “Empire” or “Orange is the New Black”).
I filed my paperwork for re-election last week, so I’m officially a candidate for the Board of Education in 2016. I’m grateful to my colleagues, friends and family who joined me to pull papers. Much more news and information about the campaign and my plans for a third term to come.
The Governor also released his preliminary budget proposal last week, and while staff is still doing the analysis for what it means for SFUSD, it’s good for K-12 education in general. We do need to worry about what happens when Prop. 30 expires in 2018, and about an eventual slowdown in the state economy, but for now times are good. The Rules Committee will take up the state budget outlook on Jan. 21, and the Budget Committee will take up the outlook for SFUSD on Feb. 3.
Thanks for the report. The work the PAC has done with SFUSD parents is impressive and relevant. I hope the board will take this information and use it to help focus policy. I also hope that the board can also use this information for advocacy for fiscal policy changes to help support our public schools. Instead of hoping that tech firms which may come and go “adopt” schools, we should be advocating for real political change to fund the lower class sizes, internship programs, and skill/job training programs which parents want. Public schools should not be in debt to corporations nor should they depend directly on corporations to fund vital and necessary programs. Public school children should not be peasants at the gate of corporate America, hoping that necessary programs are funded through the goodwill and generosity of CEOs. We have a better mechanism in place to make sure that the public sphere is funded – taxation. As I’ve mentioned before, a 5 cent tax on every alcoholic beverage sold in San Francisco could go a long way toward helping fund our public schools.
I hope as a candidate you will address creating permanent funds for teacher’s salaries, smaller class sizes, classroom supplies, and teacher’s aides. I hope you will support Evolve and Make It Fair, two groups working on reforming Prop. 13 to generate money for public education. California used to have one of the best public education systems in the United States which impressively addressed the needs of public students with high quality K-12, free community college and affordable UCs. It is now more important that people have access to free, state funded, quality public education. Corporate sponsorship of state education compromises the autonomy of institutions. California’s public education system was a great public asset which helped shaped our state and our economy. If California was a business, shareholders would wonder how we let this immense public asset fall into such a depleted state. No business would ever let such an economically powerful asset – with all of its real estate, talent, administration – fail in the way that we have let our public education system fail. We need leadership to help bring it back to its former capacity and abilities to serve all Californians, in all stages of academic life.