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.