Friday, January 22, 2010

Rachel Norton: Projected SFUSD budget gap takes a turn for the worse

An excerpt from a blog post written by Board of Education member Rachel Norton. The post was written on January 19 after a Budget committee meeting.

The hardy souls who stayed until the end of tonight’s four-hour-plus Budget committee meeting got a special treat: a budget update from Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh and Budget Director Reeta Madhaven. The punch line? The district’s two-year projected budget shortfall for 2010-11 and 2011-12 now stands at $113 million.

That’s just an unimaginable number, representing a cut of over $1,000 per student for each of the next two years. Deputy Supt. Leigh offered some “possible responses” to this crisis, including:

  • Cutting back summer school programs to save $4.6 million;
  • Reducing general education transportation to save $1.5 million;
  • Increasing class size (increasing by one student per grade saves $500,000 a year);
  • Suspending teacher sabbaticals (currently costing $2 million a year);
  • Freezing “step & column” increases (bargained wage increases that kick in at various levels of service) – these increases currently cost about $4.9 million a year;
  • Furloughs (another way of saying shortening the school year) – each day per employee saves about $2.25 million;
  • Repurposing FY 2008-09 Prop A funds set aside for additional instructional/staff development days for use in the General Fund (approximately $15 million);
  • Suspend or reduce Advanced Placement prep period allocations (schools get a certain amount of “prep” periods for teachers who take on AP courses) – probably saves $1 – $2 million;
  • Cutting Tier III categorical programs (programs that are targeted for specific students but newly allowed by the state to be “flexible” revenues), PEEF “third-third” and overall central office budgets by up to $40 million.
Read the full post on Norton's blog:


  1. Math is not my strong suit but that doesn't add up to $113 million. Unbelievable. I predict a stampede of applications to the open enrollment parochials.

  2. That is kind of funny, in a way, becuase if families are willing to pay several thousand dollars for their kids education, why not take that money and support their public school, to help shore things up a bit during these times.

  3. We are in a financial crisis but we spend 200K moving the Cobb Montessori because the Board cannot make the decision to shut down the GE portion, shut down the Montessori program (that because of its structure requires extra $$$ and lower class size), or tell them to get along until we are out of the crisis. It really is ridiculous.

  4. It is silly to nitpick at the board for Cobb this or that. Any large organization ends up making decisions than can seem penny-wise and pound-foolish. The larger problem is the policies that have led all these parents to put their time, effort and money into the private schools.

    Okay, I do know I'm not saying anything new or interesting, so feel free to ignore me and move on with this thread.

  5. 9:34, maybe, but parochials have the largest classes in SF.

    It is grim news for sure, but the only way we improve things is to hang together. I say that as a very veteran parent who has been around the block a few times through budget crises. Your kids will be okay, and it won't be as dire as is being put out. Which doesn't mean we won't be scrambling to fill gaps, and protesting, and hopefully making progress on the core issues--the two-thirds requirement for raising taxes, for example, or Prop 13.

  6. I hear that Mayor Newsom hired a "sustainability coordinator" for the school district from Prop. H funds -- that means the money could have been used directly for our kids' needs -- and imposed this on the school district. And this person hasn't done one single useful thing.

    Does anyone in the know have more information about this?