Monday, October 5, 2009

S.F. schools head uses district credit as own

An excerpt from a recent SFGate article by Chronicle staff writer Jill Tucker:
As San Francisco schools have cut budgets to the bone, the city's school board president used her district-issued credit card to charge thousands of dollars for personal items and thousands more at city restaurants and cafes, according to a Chronicle analysis of financial records.

Board President Kim-Shree Maufas charged $4,300 on the district's Diners Club card for a wide range of personal purchases. They included more than $2,000 for a cultural exchange trip to China, $196 for tickets to the Florida Epcot theme park, $40 for black Crocs, a $125 car battery and a $162 car windshield, $160 in U.S. passport processing fees, a $37 medical visit in Los Angeles and $3 for Apple iTunes.

In addition, Maufas charged $3,000 on the district's Diner's Club for food and beverages to conduct meetings across San Francisco, although the people whom she met and specific district purposes typically were not divulged. The records showed that she was often a big tipper with taxpayer funds. In more than 40 instances, a taxi or restaurant tip exceeded 20 percent of the final bill.

Maufas reimbursed the district in four payments over several months for the personal expenses, even as she continued to charge personal gas, food, parking and other items to the Diner's Club card. Her repayments did not include interest.


Read the full story by clicking here.

80 comments:

  1. The audacity of this woman. Completely ineffective on the board and dishonest to boot. We need to give her the boot next election!

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  2. The article is not clear on one point: Did she reimburse prior to getting "caught". If she did, its not a great habit she got into, but it not as terrible as the article makes it seem.

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  3. My reading is that she heard that it was an issue and then started reimbursing the District. So a yellow light went on and she changed her ways. She would certainly say that she always intended to reimburse and since she did, we'll never know.

    But six out of seven board members used their cards sparingly and reimbursed regularly. So that says something about the seventh.

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  4. She got caught. She had to pay the money back. She's a crook.

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  5. Many companies these days refrain from giving staff company cards, and instead only do reimbursements of work-related expenses. While I have mixed feelings about this practice, it seems that when public funds are at stake, it would be beneficial. Do the School Board members really need open ended credit cards to conduct their business?

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  6. "Do the School Board members really need open ended credit cards to conduct their business?"

    No. According to the article, three board members turned down the credit cards: Sandra Fewer, Rachel Norton and Norman Yee. They seek reimbursement for district expenses.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/04/MN7R19QQC4.DTL#ixzz0T6LuKPSU

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  7. Even if she is meeting someone everyday to speak about something to do with schools, why should the taxpayers buy her coffee?

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  8. Crocs are so ugly.

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  9. Geez Louise. I wonder if she took time off from her regular job for these meetings, or was she on the clock when she was meeting with constituents. I can't believe her job was that "flexible". Sounds to me like UCSF should also be looking into this matter. Could be double-bilking the tax-payer. That would be impressive!! She sure as heck won't be getting my vote.

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  10. I don't understand why she isn't fired over this. Who has oversight for the Board?

    I'm in senior management at a private software company - if that had been me, I would have been fired.

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  11. "Yellow light went on and she changed her ways?"

    And unicorns are real and there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

    What happened to accountability? It wasn't her money to spend! Even if she did repay it. Unbelievable!

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  12. Its poor practice and taste to purchase personal items with a District credit card, particularly given the lean times we are facing. And not realizing this: Poor judgement.

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  13. No doubt, she should be fired.

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  14. I am an SFUSD teacher. I was just denied funds for a trash can today. We have been told there is simply no money available right now: not for pencils, pens, paper, and yes, trash cans (I work for a special education program with a centralized budget).

    Why don't I have a district credit card? I probably spend a thousand dollars a year on ESSENTIALS that this district cannot supply for my classroom.

    There is absolutely no reason for Kim-Shree Maufas to be using this district card in this manner. While she is ordering coffee at Starbucks, and buying crocs, our students are going without the materials they need to learn, and poorly paid teachers like myself are spending our own money on supplies.

    Kim-Shree Maufas, you owe me a trash can. And a coffee from Starbucks. I'll let you keep your crocs though.

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  15. Two points:

    There are only two ways of "firing" a commissioner: recalling them or not reelecting them. Garcia can't do it and I doubt the Board can do it. Well, there might be a way if she's under indictment, but seems unlikely.

    As for the yellow light theory, my guess is that someone detected it and informed the Powers That Be. The decision was then made to let her know rather than let her dig herself in deeper. Politically, it's a bit less embarrassing and distracting than a full-blown scandal. So she'll probably ride this out, which sucks.

    Will she get recalled? Not unless there is more evidence. Her 4-year term ends in 2010. Will she get reelected? I hope not. She simply isn't a constructive voice on the Board and from what I've seen, she's one of the least hard working members.

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  16. I have a limited amount of inside information. I'm told that The Powers that Be were aware that she was racking up a tab and were trying to cut her slack (apparently since it may well be due to sincere financial distress), overruling the objections of the district's money people.

    When the press came calling, the Powers that Be changed their minds about cutting slack, and Maufas discovered a newfound commitment to repaying the money.

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  17. Re "I am an SFUSD teacher. I was just denied funds for a trash can today. We have been told there is simply no money available right now: not for pencils, pens, paper, and yes, trash cans . . . .I probably spend a thousand dollars a year on ESSENTIALS that this district cannot supply for my classroom."

    I grew up in Hawaii and in that state every family who is able to is expected to send their child to school stocked with items from a supply list that is posted, even in the local newspapers, and filed at every major supply store (Office Max, Target, Walmart etc). So kids go to school with everything from pencils, crayons, pens, notesbooks and paper reams to hand sanitizer, tissues, water bottles, paper cups, etc. etc. In the upper grades it can get very particular like a certain type of calculator, P.E. uniform basics, etc. No one blinks an eye.

    I don't know how much supplies add up to budget-wise, but i've always wondered why every school district does not require families to supply their kids with essentials like this. I know not everyone can afford everything but many can. The District could even cut a deal with major big box stores.

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  18. Let's all bring Crocs to the next BOE meeting, and THROW THEM. (But don't actually hit anybody with them)

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  19. Yes, throw CROCS and hold WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE signs.

    To the teacher who needs a trash can, go to Kim-Shree's office at the BOE and take HERS. It is full of starbucks cups. Dump those on her unused desk.

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  20. The worst part of all this is hearing people on the bus, or in the supermarkets, saying how they will never vote for another parcel tax for schools again, after this. "My 200 bucks is paying for that scumbag's COFFEE?"

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  21. The school board will elect a new President in January. Let's hope it isn't Kim-Shree. If the woman had any integrity at all she would step down from the Presidency right now. The school board has too much real work to do, like dealing with the budget, deciding on student assigment, working to close the achievement gap, and more, to be distracted by this sleaziness right now.

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  22. From Kim-Shree Maufas' website,
    http://www.kimshree4schoolboard.org/platform.html

    one of her campaign bullet-points:

    "No more unchecked expense accounts for administration or board members"

    (With the exception of her?)

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  23. "Sincere financial distress"???
    If Ms Maufas is suffering from "sincere financial distress", how was she able to pay for that huge new tattoo on her forearm? or did the taxpayers pick up the tab for that too?

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  24. "Sincere financial distress" is subtext for "lives beyond ones means".

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  25. SFUSD should audit ALL of the spending accounts from ALL the administrators and post all the information on the website for the public to see.

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  26. What disturbs me the most about this is this quote – "There definitely was a misunderstanding about how we use our credit card, but we have had training on that..."

    How can the board president need "training" on how to use a credit card? This defies logic.

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  27. Worse yet, the woman claims to have an MBA.

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  28. Kim-$hree Maufa$ needs to resign.

    My deepest sympathy for the teacher above who had to spend his/her own money for a waste basket in the classroom..

    ...while one of our venerable Green board members was running up three-figure tabs at restaurants.

    By the way, BoE member Jane Kim attended a hip-hop conference in Las Vegas at government expenses a couple of years ago.

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  29. In the end it isn't about whether what she did was technically legal or illegal. This is about her poor judgement. If she can't be trusted to make the right call in a nickel and dime matter like "Gee, shall I charge my new shoes to the school district or pay for them myself?", how can anyone trust her to make the right decision when it comes to something important like, you know, our kids' education?

    I think she should resign from the board of education.

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  30. Just to be clear, the recent parcel tax addition is going to very specific budget items, notably teacher pay. This is spelled out in the MOU with the teachers' union, UESF, which took effect as soon as we voters approved the tax. The MOU also provided the district more flexibility in paying teachers in challenging schools or subject areas, where it is difficult to staff up with good teachers.

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  31. 11:56, I know it is spelled out where that money goes, but the average citizen doesn't know that, and stories like this about stupid people abusing funds are so destructive, and it is what the taxpayers remember when they vote. Shame on her, seriously.

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  32. This makes me sick. I didn't think I could hate her more than I did, yet...We must all work together to get her away from all things related to our schools. And you're right, these types of thing affect how much people are willing to support the schools, sadly. I LOVE the crocs and may be empty starbucks cups (?) at the next meeting. Seriously, this woman needs to know that we aren't playing.

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  33. I know, she only wears the Crocs on official school board business. Kind of like how Mr. Rodgers used to change his shoes and put on a sweater at the beginning of the show. The crocs have to be legit then, right?

    Her actions do not pass the snuff test. All those times she went to Starbucks she didn't have the cash to make the purchases? Sincere financial distress? What a fascinating term - I guess it only applies to the powers that be?

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  34. People under severe financial distress do not buy coffee at Starbucks.

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  35. Who endorsed her in 2006? Seriously, she was elected on the strength of some key endorsements and that election wasn't on my radar screen at the time. Would these people/editorial boards care to comment on her current dilemma and will they continue to back her if she chooses to run again.

    Scandal 101 teaches us that the coverup is worse than the crime. Asking the District what they knew and when they knew it could make life difficult enough to drive a wedge between their interests and Kim-Shree Maufas'.

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  36. Something about this story doesn't add up. If Maufas had the money all along to cover these personal charges on her district credit card, why didn't she just pay for them at the time? And if she didn't have the money to cover them, how did she suddenly come up with it once a reporter started sniffing around?

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  37. Because she was highly motivated. Once the media started looking into it she had no choice but to find a way to pay it off since to avoid doing so would look even worse. She probably borrowed the money.

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  38. I think her conduct was unethical, but ultimately this is small potatoes. Financial controls in SFUSD are ridiculous. Every year brings new District-level administrators bearing new programs and new contracts for new consultants. The District spends money wildly in the short term but avoids expenditures that would save money in the long term (for instance, computerizing the lunch system, which among other things would ease billing for paid lunches that aren't getting paid).

    Even this year, while schools are under austerity measures and already planning for less next year, SFUSD hired new administrators for the District. It is simply untrue that they boast a streamlined, low-overhead model. I wish Ms. Tucker and the Chronicle would look into the larger issues of the millions wasted, rather than a huge story on $4000 (a story that's led to some of the most racist comments I have ever seen on the Chronicle's website, too).

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  39. I'm really amazed at the line of reasoning that because questionable spending decisions are made by some district staff, that means that unethical behavior by an elected official is somehow okay, because it is "small potatoes" in comparison. Ever stop to think that maybe the reason why these "potatoes" aren't bigger is because they didn't get the chance to grow any bigger? I bet if Jill Tucker hadn't started asking questions about these expenses, Kim-Shree Maufas would still be out there charging up a storm with no plans to repay any of it. How much "float" are we, the taxpayers, supposed to grant our elected officials? Is $4,000 acceptable? What about $7500? or $10,000? How much would this woman have to charge up before it becomes a big enough "potato" to warrant scrutiny?

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  40. 10:45

    You are right that the ethics are not different. No argument there. The point is it would be more useful to spill the same amount of ink on the bigger potatoes. It would be GREAT to get that POS system for school lunches, for example. Instead we get nebulous consulting contracts.

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  41. This woman's conduct is inexcusable. Nobody this ethically challenged has any business on a school board. Still, the previous poster is right that it's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. A good investigative piece on exactly what the school district does with its money would be very timely.

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  42. Yes, particularly this recent $3 million contract for highly paid consultants - Jill Tucker, do you want to take this one on?

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  43. Kim-Shree voted in favor of those contracts, didn't she?

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  44. Yes, with no discussion from her during the board meeting

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  45. Yes, with no discussion from her during the board meeting

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  46. Get real, people. She's only paid $500 a month and she has to run the entire school district. This whole story is not a big deal.

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  47. I agree - the total amount of the money discussed in the article is not a big deal. The issue is financial competency. That fact that she has to "run" the school district with little financial sophistication is the issue and that is a big deal.

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  48. I'm not saying it's not troubling. But there are larger fish to fry here. Systemic underfunding is a much bigger problem for the district. I saw a letter to the editor in the Chron today from a mother whose daughter is attending a public high school after years in private. The mother was justifiably upset about the Maufus credit card affair and linked it to lack of textbooks in her daughter's school. But the textbooks are not directly linked to the Maufus credit card, which is small potatoes. They *are* directly linked to systemic underfunding. Apparently it just occurred to this mother that the public schools do not get all that they need. But that's the voters' fault and also the fault of those whom we elected, like Schwarzenegger. It's fine and good to call out the credit card thing, but we are missing the forest for the trees if we blame the lack of textbooks on her. We need to direct this energy to build a movement to address the funding issue. Have you all called your representatives today?

    Also, Ms. Maufas does not "run" the district day to day. Superintendent Garcia does. Yes, she runs the board and that board oversees big expenditures. But it not a board of one person. It's small corruption (or close to it). Yes, deal with it. Cut up the cards and make everyone reimuburse. Then move on. She'll be voted out next time.

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  49. If I don't have enough money, I look at my budget, set priorites, and let some things go. I'm on a nonprofit board, and when we approve the budget, we get detailed reports from the department head about how they spend their money and how the expenditures serve the cause we are working on. I don't know why the school district should be allowed to keep throwing its hands in the air shouting, "We don't have enough money" without going through that kind of self-examination, publicly. The district web site has a 26-page list of what appear to be non-teaching staff. What are all of these people doing and why? Can things be restructured to make things more efficient? If not, why not? Why is there a department called "Leadership, Equity, Achievement and Design" with almost 40 staff while schools are starving for art and PE? What non-personnel costs does the district incur? What assets could be sold or leased to improve revenues? It may be that the district is doing as well as any institution made up of flawed human beings can with the resources available, but before we are asked to give and give and give again (whether by voting for more parcel taxes or donating to public school fundraisers or buying classroom supplies for our teachers), it would be nice to have some transparent accounting. Doesn't seem likely though . . .

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  50. Too many citizens will connect the sloppy oversight and personal mishandling of a credit card to reinforce their general feeling of the public school district’s financial waste. I can proudly say I voted against Proposition 13 as a young homeowner. However, there is not much of a chance that Prop 13 is going to be overturned. Getting more money out of the public right now is not viable IMO. I think that the school district and the school board would well serve the public by taking this newspaper investigation (overblown as it might have been) and use it for a catalyst for change. Start being transparent. Start have a detailed look at budget items presented to the board and have serious review, rather than just having automatic approval. Involve the community of stakeholders for their comments and seriousl listen to the suggestions. Turn this lack of trust around and start trying to get the public to support the schools with the confidence that the finances are being handled with integrity and wisdom.

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  51. The harm done by the school board president's misuse of her district credit card far exceeds the amount of personal purchases she made. It has undermined everyone's confidence in the ability of the school board and the school district to properly manage their money, to apply checks and balances, to keep proper accounts. It has given us reason to suspect that maybe there is more misuse of funds than we will ever know about. It has made people say they won't support a future bond issue for the schools. How is any of this helpful for public education, especially at a time when the state has made it clear that funding prisons is more important than funding education? Saying that this is just a few thousand dollars, not a big deal, why make an issue of it, completely misses the point. It is about more than the exact amount of money spent for coffee and crocs. It is about the fundamental trust which must exist between the parents in a school district, and the officals elected to represent them. That trust has been damaged now, perhaps irrevocably, and the price of that far exceeds a few thousand bucks.

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  52. After the above reference to the letter to the editor in the Chronicle, I got the paper out to read it. The writer concludes by saying:
    “Being a taxpayer in SF for the past 30 years and using the public school system for the first time, I feel cheated. I think the students are cheated and the teachers are cheated. Who else in the school system is abusing our funds?”
    I think this reinforces the point that was made about the lack of trust and worries that this is may be just the tip of the iceberg.

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  53. Recall Election!

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  54. I cut and pasted this from the web site of "Emerge," a group that helps women democrats get elected to public office:

    "As a member of the San Francisco School Board Kim-Shree [Maufas] works hard to set an example for the 55,000 children and their parents that depend on her, emphasizing that 'how elected officials behave in the smallest matters is noticed and is hence of the utmost importance.'"

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  55. one of her campaign bullet-points:

    "No more unchecked expense accounts for administration or board members"

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  56. "how elected officials behave in the smallest matters is noticed and is hence of the utmost importance"

    Very wise words Ms. Maufas. And, unfortunately, very ironic.

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  57. Ms. Kim-Shree Maufas resume from the 2006 alumnae list from Emerge:

    Kim-Shree Maufas is a policy analyst, with an emphasis on girl's issues, for San Francisco's Department on the Status of Women. She is also the Administrative Liaison for the Mayor's Bayview -Hunter's Point Shipyard Citizen's Advisory Council. Before moving into public policy work for San Francisco, Kim-Shree worked in the accounting departments of several San Francisco and Palo Alto based-law firms, including most recently Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

    Originally from Los Angeles, Kim-Shree moved to San Francisco in 1994 to raise her daughter, Francesca (who recently turned eighteen). While serving as the PTSA president of her daughter's high school, Kim-Shree became an impassioned activist for youth and educational issues, particularly pertaining to those concerning girls and underserved communities.

    Kim-Shree holds an A.A Degree in Television Production & Communication from Los Angeles City College, a B.A. in Human Communication from the University of San Francisco and is currently working towards a dual M.B.A. in Global Management as well as Law and Ethics at the University of Phoenix. She plans to go to Law School.

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  58. "Kim-Shree worked in the accounting departments of several San Francisco and Palo Alto based-law firms,"

    Good God!

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  59. Okay, we get it. Looks bad, is bad, needs to be dealt with. Not good. Bad, naughty board member.

    Now can every person who wrote something about THIS sorry situation also write to your Assembly rep and senator (Ammiano, Ma, Leno et al), or to your Congressional rep (Pelosi, Speier, Boxer, Feinstein) about allocating stimulus dollars to support the desperate gaps in public education in CA next year? It is ALSO a scandal but with a polite veneer. It matters hugely. It is a crisis. If we all write or call every few days, it will up the crisis meter for them, since they are not seeing it every day.

    Please take the time to do this, and organize others to do so as well.

    Thanks.

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  60. Sure, let's all organize to write letters for more money so EVERY person who works for the SFUSD can charge their morning coffee at Starbucks and buy themselves a new wardrobe with school funds. After all, it's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.

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  61. Yah, I'm sure no private school administrator ever had a fancy dinner out using anyone's hard-earned tuition dollars. I'm sure no corporate bank that took bailout money ever gave out huge bonuses to the very idiots who tanked our economy.

    There is no way anyone can say what 6:55 just said if they a) actually know our schools from the inside and how they operate and b) care about the kids at all. I love how people who oppose public institutions pick off the one anecdote and blow it up. Remember welfare queens? Did you know they were hugely exaggerated to blow up AFDC? There is always going to be the story of small corruption--every system has it, some more than others.

    I do not believe SFUSD has more than its share of corruption, in fact. You can and should institute controls--and I absolutely support cutting up those credits cards, fwiw--but there will always be a story for someone to grab onto. Human nature. But for this--a few cups of coffee--we are supposed to hold the kids hostage to some standard of PERFECT?

    I know how carefully our schools use their site budgets. They are practically scraping dimes off the pavement they are so careful with small change. We could use a few more bucks, frankly. I don't approve of the Maufus stuff, not at all, but I'd take her cup of coffee with a few thousand extra bucks for my kid's school if given the choice between that and waiting for Mother Teresa to run the system.

    This is a classic example of misdirected or deflected outrage (think of the teabaggers). Not that it's not wrong, what she did, but where is the outrage for the crimes that have the biggest impact, like cutting school budgets for the last generation?

    I call foul play and right-wing tactics. It's like Fox News around here these days with these games of gotcha.

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  62. Oh, please, this is not a right vs left issue. And people have a right to express their opinion, even if you don't like it.

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  63. Huh? Have you ever seen Kim-Shree Maufus on one of her sanctimonious but wandering diatribes? She's an ineffective board member, ineffective for the District as a whole and ineffective for the underprivileged community she represents.

    A case in point is the assignment system redesign. The current system has many flaws, but one of the groups that it harms the most are people of color in the SE part of the City. Why are there silo schools there? Because participation rates in the lottery for African-Americans and Latinos in the SE are so low. Why is that? Because the system is complex and requires so much parent investment. A diligent, progressive board member would recognize that and they would feel and express an urgent need for change.

    But that isn't what we hear from Ms. Maufus. Instead we get meandering speeches and delays.

    How many things need fixing in SFUSD? A lot. But I will not juggle them. A better, more intelligent board could help improve things. And for the record, Ms. Maufus isn't alone. Norman Yee doesn't have her ethical problems, but he seems pretty useless.

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  64. No, this is not a simple issue of "everyone has a right to an opinion." Once again, I think what Maufus did was wrong, and for the record, I also think she's an idiot, okay? Didn't vote for her, will not vote for her again. I'm in agreement on that point.

    However. Focusing ad nauseum on one bad and/or incompetent player in the system--and making snarky statements that imply we shouldn't be pushing or voting for funding for the schools because of her--this is pernicious. Some of the other posters here have pointed out that this incident could become a reason why people don't vote for a bond measure. Yeah, maybe that's true. So why would any school advocate keep fanning the flames? The point has been made. Now can we turn to the more important issues? There are children's lives at stake and people are focusing on the snark and the bad apple. The right-wing lobby that wants to kill our schools will be loving this.

    Our schools need more money. The system is not so corrupt--it just isn't--that we shouldn't be working to make that happen. All this righteous energy, letters to the editor, and more than 60 posts on this thread already, if redirected, would help. It's misdirection, and people are either being silly--or they are being pernicious--not to see that.

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  65. Re Maufus and reassignment design.

    Not saying she's a great leader on this issue, certainly.

    Leaving her faults aside for the moment though, I question your assertion that the current system is the worst in view for low-income people of color.

    The problem is that if the goal is to get BVHP kids into better-performing and more diverse schools, the way to do that is engineered school assignment combined with busing. Could be done legally (based on the Berkeley decision) based on a block by block assessment of school achievement and SES factors. BUT, the rest of the city, including parents on this blog, will raise holy hell if that is what is put in place. Plus, the busing part may not be affordable anyway.

    At least the current system offers our poorest families, including BVHP families, a clear walk into almost any school they might choose. No question, the participation rates are hurting them severely. However, the answer to that is probably not the zebra option or the other one that seem to be the two on the table before the BOE. It's not at all apparent that any of these new options would reduce the silos at all....there are so many factors, including geographic, that mitigate against that.

    Change takes time. If the BOE were to invest in a massive community organizing campaign to get low-income families to participate meaningfully in R1, they could probably save a bundle on consultant dollars in the reassignment process, and end up with much more diverse schools.

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  66. I hear what you're saying that a completely equitable assignment system probably wouldn't be politically popular. But you say yourself that the zebra plan could be worse for BVHP students (new acronym for me) than the existing system.

    How will Ms. Maufus play her hand? I doubt she'll be a good advocate for underprivileged students or a good partner in a City-wide negotiation.

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  67. This is not about one person's "corruption" (I would not actually call Kim-Shree Maufus corrupt, but I would call her out for incompetence and conduct unbecoming her position) but responsible use of public funds. I support more funding for public schools, but I still want a transparent understanding of what the district does with the money they already have. I realize the schools' mandate includes a lot more than teaching: nutrition; social services and outreach to disadvantaged communities being examples. Without those things, the (I believe correct) goal of ensuring that every child in this city has access to a decent education won't happen so I don't mind the district providing them. However, when the public pays, we should know where our money is going and how the expenditures serve the goal of making a decent education accessible to every child in this city. I don't think there is a lot of "corruption" in the school district. I do suspect that there are a significant number of district staff and programs that don't do much to educate the children in the school district. Maybe the 40-person "Leadership, Equity, Achievement and Design" staff at SFUSD provides vital services . . . maybe a lot of them are in fact volunteers . . . . The point is not to pick on them in particular, but I don't know what they do or how much they get paid to do it, and the public is entitled to that information. It's a question of feeling comfortable that the school district is not diverting resources away from the school sites and classrooms--which so desperately and obviously DO need more money--toward staffing and programs that benefit the people providing them to the detriment of the students. The public schools serve their own interests and the public's interests by giving the public a comfort level that the the school district is, on the whole, spending its limited resources to educate students. The problem with Kim-Shree Malfas is a tempest in a teapot (or a coffee cup) but it points to a much larger problem--a widespread public perception that the school district is incompetently managed and that its leaders are more concerned about feathering their own nests (I don't mean stealing, just protecting their jobs and the budgets for their programs, no matter how useful or not-useful they might be) at the expense of the children.

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  68. For what it's worth, the district is run much, much more competently now than it was under Rojas back in the 90's. Say what you will about Ackerman or now Garcia, but it's a tighter ship.

    Agreed we need more transparency. School finance is byzantine (thanks in part to the after-effects of Prop 13 again) and few understand it. I voted for Jill Wynns in the last election almost entirely because she is one of the few BOE members who actually does. And the district is hugely at the mercy of state funding. We all watched the GOP coup this year, right?

    Perhaps the folks here who are so concerned about these issues will be willing to go and sit through the BOE meetings, as well as the BOE's finance committee meetings. They are open to the public. Maybe some of you will even take the plunge and run for office as a parent advocate, like Rachel Norton.

    By the way, technically Kim Shree-Maufus does not "represent" underprivileged students in particular. She represents all of us (for better or worse), because board members are elected at large, unlike district supes. Yes, she can identify that she sees herself as a voice for the underprivileged, but that is different.

    Agreed that I wonder if she is really running the numbers on the impact of the proposed plans on low-income communities of color. I don't see them as being either feasible or good for those communities. The current system is problematic, but may be the most fair. A LOT more investment in encouraging participation would be helpful, I think.

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  69. I've been tracking the BoE for about two years (I've got a 3-year old, so it figures). I didn't vote for Wynns because I thought she'd been on the board long enough and I detected a note of entitlement. But I've watched her in action and I'll say she's intelligent and well-informed. Jane Kim is also very smart and probably destined for higher office (what isn't higher?).

    That doesn't mean that I agree with either of these members, but at least they bring some ability to the table. The others? Not so much.

    I understand that BoE members are elected at large and not by district. But I doubt whether that affects how Ms. Maufus thinks. And if she were a better advocate or showed some political ability I wouldn't mind.

    I'm also beginning to think that patching up the current system is the best we can hope for, politically and practically. But to arrive at that political consensus will take more intelligence than I've seen on the board.

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  70. No doubt about it, we need a better caliber of person on the board of education. Without getting into personalities, there are a few members who really do their homework, show up for the meetings, and give 110%. Then there are the rest of them, who are either marking time on their way to higher office, or who seem to just like to hear the sound of their own voices.

    Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and throw your hat into the ring, or the best we can hope for is more Kim-Shrees.

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  71. Disagree about Jane Kim. Yes, she's certainly smart, but she has no experience in schools and is making decisions that are not in the best interests of our children and our schools.

    Kim voted in favor of a $3 million contract for a dubious professional development consultant, the National Urban Alliance. NUA is based on Long Island, and the cost includes travel expenses for every trip to SF, but larger than that is the question of what this organization has done to prove itself worth taking that money directly out of our classrooms for it.

    (In the final vote, Fewer, Kim, Maufas and Yee supported that contract; Norton and Wynns opposed it; and Mendoza was absent but I believe had opposed it in previous discussion.)

    The same commissioners voted yea and nay on a smaller but also dubious item, $40,000 for hip-hop artist Bryonn Bain to run a program in SFUSD's county-community high schools (for troubled youth). A key point is that those schools do not want the program. The word I heard is that Bain's organization had previously run a program in one of the schools, making a video that happened to be about students beating up a fellow student. The making of the video involved, or led to, the ACTUAL beating up of a student. Understandably, the principals don't want the program returning to their schools.

    But still, Fewer, Kim, Maufas and Yee voted to bring it back. (I believe Mendoza was again absent; Norton and Wynns were the "no" votes.)

    Both those budget items have been covered on Rachel Norton's blog, so you can look there and read her take on them.

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  72. The Guardian Weekly has an article this week defending Kim Shree M. They say mishandling $7,000 is nothing but a misunderstanding, a harmless slight of hand.

    I love the Guardian.

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  73. Imagine the SFBG outrage should Wynns or Norton had such a 'slight of hand'.

    Really, the SFBG is shameless. Unfortunately, they'll be around for the foreseeable future not because there is a great demand for their one-sided blather, but because they are living off the proceeds of a lawsuit win over SFWeekly.

    With all the good they could do, they continue to spout dogma and protect idiots.

    Darn.

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  74. SFBG is so hypocritical and two-faced.

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  75. Speaking of Jane Kim, I was pretty sure her next step would be to run for Supervisor in District 6, when Chris Daly is termed out in 2010. But just in case there was any doubt (after she recently moved to the vicinity of Mission and South Van Ness, in District 6), a mailer has just been sent out urging voters to vote no on Prop D. This is a proposition which would, according to the mailer, flood mid Market street with unsightly billboards. The mailer is sponsored by a long list of organizations and elected officials, but it features just one of them in a box with a photo and a quote - Jane Kim! Hmmm, why would a member of the BOE be the sole individual featured as spokesperson for No on D? I guess it is because mid Market street is right smack dab in the middle of District 6, and Ms Kim wants to be out in front of this issue so that when she runs next year, she can highlight her opposition to the blight of billboards proposed for her district.

    I am as opposed to billboards as anyone else, so if Ms Kim wants to speak out on this issue, fine with me. Just saying, it doesn't look like she plans to stick around for another term on the school board. I'm thinking that after KimShree's public embarrassment over the credit card snafu, Jane Kim is probably already lobbying the other BOE members to elect her board president for 2010, so that she can have the spotlight for the 10 months leading up to the 2010 election.

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  76. Doesn't Prop D also raise money for arts for schools in the area? Guess Jane Kim doesn't want THAT!

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  77. http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=7447#more

    School Beat: The Fiduciary Responsibility of School Administrators

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  78. Kimshree doesn't have an MBA. She's been working on getting an MBA for 6 years from one of those online colleges.

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  79. Thank you for sharing a lot of things inside your blog. I'm looking forward for more of your updates. Thanks again.

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