Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SF Chronicle: 'Horrible' cuts planned for S.F. schools

Please take the time to read Jill Tucker's Chronicle story below about SFUSD's pending budget cuts presented at tonight's Board of Education meeting.

Our district is facing terribly tough times, and tonight I attended the meeting where Carlos Garcia mapped out how we can make up for the $113 million budget shortfall.

The cuts are painful, and while Garcia and deputy superintendent Myong Leigh went over the plan--reducing summer school, eliminating eight schools from the STAR program, introducing unpaid district-wide furloughs--everyone in the room shuddered.

In fact, people were hissing when he announced that class size might be increased to 25 students in K-3. Garcia looked up with sad eyes and said, "I know. I don't want this either."

The meeting was intense. After the superintendent's presentation, the community chimed in. When the 20 or so students from the SF International High School got up in front of the crowd and begged for the board to not make cuts, I couldn't help but cry.

I wasn't the only one tearing up. When Board of Education vice president Hydra Mendoza shared her feelings of devastation over the cuts, her voice was cracking.

And then there was the eighth grader from Hoover Middle School who didn't want her school's art and music program to go away, and the teacher/parent who stood up in front of the crowd and screamed at the top of her lungs, "It is a crime to settle for this amount of money? Who is committing this crime? We are not picketing! We are not rallying! We need to put pressure on the politicians! Our state is the third lowest in education spending in the country. We can't agree to this budget. We need to take care of our children and let them shine!"

I thought I would leave the meeting feeling depressed and helpless, maybe even thinking I should jump ship and move my kid to private school. But rather I left feeling hopeful and proud to be a part of the city's public education community.

In that room, there was so much passion and determination to figure out how to get ourselves out of the hole. The board vowed to try to get federal government money and to find ways to gain a profit from the district's real estate holdings. Teachers, parents, and students shared ideas.

Everyone had the children's best interest in mind. Not everyone agreed that the cuts should be made in the same places, yet they did all have a common end goal: to offer our kids the best education possible.

Even though Garcia was presenting these cuts, he was anything but the bad guy. He kept saying things such as, "Together, we need to figure out how to get out of this mess"; and "This is an assault to public education"; "No one in this room is the enemy and if we don't stand up for our children who will"; and "Our students deserve better than this." He also talked about suing the state for providing an inadequate amount of money to education our children.

I have heard rumors that board meetings are terribly boring. This was anything but that. I learned a lot about how our district functions. In the coming weeks, the board will be tackling budget cuts and the student assignment system and so I encourage parents to attend meetings. They're held the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month; click here for info. This was my first meeting, and I left feeling empowered and determined to work even harder to make our district better.

Here's Tucker's article for a less emotional, more factual take on the meeting:
San Francisco's school Superintendent Carlos Garcia laid out his plan Tuesday to bridge an expected $113 million budget shortfall over the next two years, describing it as a long list of "horrible and deplorable" cuts that rival those experienced during the Great Depression.

49 comments:

  1. Thanks for coming to the meeting! I've now posted my notes, entitled: "How to cut $113 million, and other assorted minidramas" -
    http://bit.ly/cmij2r

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  2. What can we do to keep this from happening?

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  3. Is Garcia taking a paycut too? Because his salary is well above the state average, while everything else in SF is already well below the state average. And while the $45,000 difference between SF's superintendent salary and the average for superintendents in the state is not going to solve this fiscal crisis, it's something. I would expect him to cut his salary in equal percentage to his teachers as compared to state averages. Based on principle.

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  4. Can SFUSD qualify for Rainy Day funds from the city next year? If so, the "400 pink slips" for teachers is a formality (needed to qualify for the funds) but far fewer layoffs would be in store.

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  5. The Rainy Day fund is pretty much gone. The District will get a few million but nothing that will prevent substantial layoffs.

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  6. I've posted this on other strings here before, but I think there are lots of parents in the city (and others) who would contribute to a nonprofit fund solely designed to restore teacher layoffs. Everyone agrees that increasing class size is a disaster. A fund solely focused on funneling money to SFUSD for the sole purpose of reversing any teacher layoffs would get money from me. I can't imagine the union would be opposed to it, as the money would be under the full control of SFUSD. And I'm sure there are many others in the city who would. Couldn't PPS create such a fund on an emergency basis?

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  7. K class sizes go from 20 to 25 in a two year span. Will K-3 be at 30 kids by 2012? In the private non-parochial schools, the ratio is typically 9:1. I was waffling before this announcement but the increase class size (second year in a row) pushes me over the edge towards private schools.

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  8. like every public school parent, i am sick over this. (everybody should be sick over this.) my question is, where should we direct our energies? what's the most important thing we, as parents and voters, can do right now?

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  9. To January 27, 2010 9:37 AM

    I don't mean to be snarky, but really, what is the point of your post?

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  10. "Will K-3 be at 30 kids by 2012?"

    There is certainly no reason to believe this will be the last budget crisis in the near future. This is a systemic problem.

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  11. 9:58 a.m., since you say you weren't being snarky and just wondering, I'll explain what I think the point of 9:37 a.m.'s post was Namely that she is scared of the unknown, and does not want to put her child into a situation where the class size will continue to grow as the budget situation gets worse. Note that it is only class size that is increasing but other amenities/necessities are being cut.

    We applied to public and private schools, with public actually being our first choice. This news has also pushed us towards the privates.

    Don't think for a minute that 9:37 a.m. and I are the only ones who feel this way.

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  12. Every man, woman and child in the city would have to give $140 to make up the $113 million shortfall for just one year, and our classrooms were already struggling and dependent on money from the city's now-depleted rainy-day fund. (Admin, that's another story, maybe we will finally get rid of some of the bizarre stuff they've been doing. Unless I missed something in the powerpoint, the assignment redesign consultants did not even look at the budget implications of their proposals. I don't begrudge Garcia his salary though; what a hellish job.) For some $140 is still easy but for a lot of us it was never possible, and for a lot of us, that's become a far bigger sacrifice than it used to be. It used to be coffee money; now it's 2 weeks of food on the table. Many foundations are hurting, and some are set up with specific mandates to fund issues other than education. Would it a dedicated school foundation help some? One would hope, and something is better than nothing. But if the foundation is spending everything it gets in the current year just to put a band-aid on a severed leg, it can't build up any reserves for an endowment. It's kind of like making only your credit card minimum payments. You're keeping the collection agencies at bay for now, but long term, you're going to go bankrupt. I'm all in favor of helping schools, and I understand that they need something right now and I'd probably try to come up with some sad little amount like my $10 Haiti relief contribution. However, my fear is that the establishment of such a foundation could give people a false sense of having "solved" the problem. It would not solve the problem, and it feeds the privatization beast.

    Sadly, it seems that every effort at the state and federal level to make hard choices and solve nightmarish problems that will haunt our country for generations is blocked by recalcitrant anti-tax anti-government Republicans. I'm glad the community is supportive our schools at least at an emotional level, but I'm sorry, I can't find that hope.

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  13. I guess 9:37 was under the impression that this blog is a place for parents who are agonizing over the decision between public and private school. It did start out that way.

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  14. Kim Green, I think work to help get the constitutional convention (which is where Prop 13 can be rehauled) passed as well as advocating that cuts made come as far from the classroom as possible. I personally would rather see 22 kids in a classroom with a teacher who doesn't have access to a math specialist than one with 25 kids.

    We have to stop thinking about what we can do right now and think about what we can do right now to systemically change how we fund education so we don't continue to go through this year after year (admittedly this year is a gazillion times worse). We need more funding in the state (which splitting the tax role so corporations are not protected under Prop 13 would do) and abolishing the 2/3 majority to pass a budget or tax increase.

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  15. This is 9:37 a.m. and 10:11 a.m. is correct. I wanted to send my kid to a SFUSD school. I admire the spunk and determination of parents for public schools but I cannot ignore the sliding quality of the schools as a result of the budget cuts (particularly class size). Kids who are in 3rd, 4th, 5th grade today received an SFUSD education that my kid will not as a results of these cuts, which appear to be just growing. Teachers are questioning how they will even be able to teach with these increased class sizes. I want my kid to have a quality education and the class size increases erode that quality.

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  16. 9:11 am again -- looking at Garcia's cuts, I see $8 million for restoring class size in K through 3. Yes, $113 million is daunting, but $8 million is not impossible to fundraise for. I assume the $8 million is tied to the actual teacher layoffs. If every parent who could give money to a fund solely dedicated to restoring this $8 million, we'd at least have prevented an increase in class size, which everyone agrees is a BAD idea. I'm willing to give $3000 to a fund right today for such a purpose. If we could find 2660 other parents in this city who could do the same thing, other people in this city who think it is a dumb idea to destroy early education with large classes, we could do it. I know some don't have the money, some will do less. But this doesn't seem to me to be totally undoable. Let's make it completely transparent -- PPS or some other sets up a nonprofit just to take in the money and turns it over to SFUSD for the express purpose of preventing an increase in class size and saving teachers' jobs. We can't wait for the state to fix itself -- it never will --and any new tax is going to likely get shot down. But with this simple action, we can at least keep class sizes where they are now and keep teachers in the classrooms.

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  17. Lessee - there's about 65,000-70,000 kids in SFUSD (don't have exact numbers here, but that's about the ballpark)

    $113 million in cuts: that's about $1,600 per student.

    Half of students are on free/reduced lunches, so let's assume those student's families wouldn't be able to contribute much voluntarily.

    So you'd have to get $3,200 in voluntary contributions per student from every non-poor attendee to SFUSD.

    You could ease the pain mildly, but not make up the shortfall from the GOP-driven clusterf**k in Sacramento.

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  18. $11.5 million: A freeze on teacher and other employee pay increases tied to experience

    $9 million: Unpaid districtwide furloughs

    $8 million: K-3 class size increases

    $7 million: Cuts to staff development days

    $6.4 million: Cuts to unrestricted general fund expenditures, including administrative departments and central office functions

    $4.3 million: Cuts to school programs for underserved students

    $4 million: Cuts to STAR/Dream School program, funding for struggling schools

    $4 million: Suspension of sabbaticals

    $3 million: Cuts to supplemental counseling

    $2.6 million: Cuts to central office spending related to categorical programs

    $1.4 million: Cuts to arts and music block grant

    $1.2 million: Cuts to physical education teacher incentive program

    $1 million: Cuts to school safety and violence prevention

    Maybe Garcia's proposed cuts are for 1 year and the $113 million is a 2-year number, I don't know, so maybe the cuts are enough to deal with the budget shortfall.

    However, I think it will take a lot more than fundraising $8 million to maintain services the students need.

    There will be $9 million saved by furloughs. Won't that mean teachers absent from the classroom regularly, effectively increasing class size on the days they're gone? There will be $7 million cut from staff development, meaning that the teachers who stay after their pay cuts, forced furloughs and lost sabbaticals will be less up-to-date in their skills. $8.3 million will be taken away from the neediest students. $3 million will be lost from counseling many of the most struggling students need to function. $1 million lost from violence prevention meaning the teachers remaining will have harder-to-control environments especially in the most troubled schools. $2.6 million lost from the music, art and PE programs that help children's brains develop fully and break up their days so that they don't burn out on left-brain activity--again probably most needed in the schools by the children whose families have the least outside resources to provide them after school and on weekends. I'm sorry to be so pessimistic, I really do applaud the good intentions, but I don't think raising $8 million to keep fewer bodies in the K-3 classrooms will cut it, especially for the most under-served kids.

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  19. Rachel - thanks so much for being a voice of reason on the board and for communicating so well to all of us - I'm amazed that in the same meeting full of budget cuts the board set aside 665K (NOT chump change - that's a few teachers right there even with all the benefit costs) for "violence prevention / restorative justice programs" - unproven programs from misc expensive consultants - and if it won't really cover the cost the program then what's going to happen - it'll go overbudget and cost even more.

    I heartily agree with your argument to give that money to the individual sites and let them make the decision on how to spend it - if a school feels that a program is good and it really addresses a need at their site, their SSC can spend it that way - otherwise, it goes elsewhere. How many other programs are there like this - you mentioned the 3 million dollar professional development contract (i assume we can't get that money back either) - Put those two together and you've pretty much got K-3 class size back down for another year.

    I think one good thing about this crisis is that parents will hopefully be paying more attention to the decisions the board is making and remember them in the next election. I truly hope this will trend toward more level-headed candidates who really care rather than those just on their way to the board of supervisors.

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  20. 10:42 and others considering private school in light of these cuts: Like most parents, I understand your fear (fear which is always magnified for K-seekers anyway, who don't have actual personal experience with their children in public schools) and of course you have your personal choices to make. I don't make judgments on them. If you are so lucky as to have choices and the means to afford them, then choose away.

    I do hope, however, that this conversation will not devolve into a private vs. public angsty thing. We've done that quite a bit on this blog, and it tends to devolve quickly into straw man arguments. Whatever your personal choice, really, whatever that is, I would rather us focus on the systemic solutions needed to address the funding issues for public education now and for years to come.

    Why? Because, simply, most of us don't have (what seem to be from your comment) your choices or your means, so defaulting to private school is just not an option for most of us, and we need to find other ways forward that involve sticking with the public schools. Also, because I assume that we should all care about the future of public education in this city, state, and nation, because it represents the future and direction of our country, no matter where our own kids go to school.

    Again, that is not to denigrate your personal decision-making process nor your ultimate choice. Just to say that I think that would be the most helpful direction for this thread.

    My thoughts:

    I agree with those who have said we should have a unified San Francisco schools foundation.

    I also agree with the person who suggests joining forces with the groups that are pushing for dividing the rolls of Prop 13 and reducing the 2/3 new tax threshold. These are good first steps that would make a huge difference if they were to pass.

    I would finally add that March 4 is going to be a huge advocacy day for education funding in California. The original impetus came from the UC protesters, but it has spread and is now a full "defend public education" day involving stakeholders from all levels. I believe the BoE just signed on. The UC protesters have made some headway (c.f. Arnold's charming if probably in practice unworkable proposal to mandate that higher ed always get more funding than the state prison system, which it currently does not). We have to turn up the heat on Sacramento this spring in advance of the budget revise, and a unified voice for public education on March 4 is a good start.

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  21. WTF?

    in the same meeting full of budget cuts the board set aside 665K (NOT chump change - that's a few teachers right there even with all the benefit costs) for "violence prevention / restorative justice programs" - unproven programs from misc expensive consultants -

    I listened to some of the meeting on the radio but not all -- can anyone sum up who voted for and against this?

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  22. With all respect, I don't see anyone with a lot of alternatives to Prop 13. Just a lot of blame. Given the amount of tax I pay is now closing in on 20,000 there is no way I would vote to repeal Prop 13. As far as I know, it's also the holy grail of laws that nobody will touch. I'm not sure how many of you pay huge taxes as opposed to just complaining that others don't pay enough but from what I can see Sacramento needs to get its act together and spend less. At the very least, this city in particular, should make it a little easier to do business here. Taxing the heck out of everything will only lead to a bigger piece of the pie . . . of a smaller pie.

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  23. 5:15

    That's too facile a response. Prop 13 has warped our tax structure beyond reason--people living next door to each other paying wildly different amounts (by tens of thousands of dollars), with the bulk of the tax burden increasingly falling on young families. Prop 13 also lumps together corporate and residential properties, even though their fiscal realities in terms of turnover and other issues are quite different.

    Above all, Prop 13 has sent our public services, including our schools, into a race to the bottom wherein California, the WORLD's eighth largest economy, will soon be the 50th state in the country for per pupil state spending, trailing Mississippi, Alabama, and other near-third world states.

    I'm all for a reasonable balance of taxes vs. business climate. I'm all for fiscal prudence. But we are way, way out of whack, and not in the direction of overspending on our schools. We are not creating a business climate in this state if we allow our schools to head toward third world status. Especially when the jobs in this world that pay family wages increasingly require more education, not less.

    Prop 13 has always been the third rail here, and on the whole it may remain so. But with California increasingly looking like a failed state, a growing coalition of reasonable (in the sense of not knee-jerk "no taxes" OR "no spending cuts" folks) is looking at how Prop 13 can be reformed. The idea of dividing the rolls between corporate and residential is one that might have traction. Lowering the 2/3 super-majority for revenue and budget questions even to 55% also might also have traction. Both would make a huge difference.

    It's also possible that some fixes could be included in any reform plan to avoid the problem of too steep a rise in taxes for primary residences, and for elderly on fixed incomes, and so forth--the problem you raise of taxes overwhelming a family in a short period of time. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Other states do it--Massachusetts, which relies hugely on property tax to fund local schools, has some limits on how quickly property taxes can rise. Yet their schools are among the best in the country, and are one reason why they have created a relatively stable knowledge economy (Rtes 128, 495 beltways), and a durable college industry that includes 60 institutions of higher learning in the Boston area alone.

    We have to do something. The current situation has created a death spiral. Other countries and states invest in education, and we will be left behind.

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  24. January 27, 2010 5:15 PM:

    I'll second.

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  25. The reason we are in such a dire economic circumstance is

    1. because so many businesses have left the state. (Because of deregulation including laws that allow a company to maintain a California business entity, but incorporate in a tax with much lower tax requirements.)

    2. because we have high expenditures relative to taxes collected.

    Note that the net AVERAGE income tax collected from individuals in California is much higher than it was even twenty years ago. True, it has dropped dramatically in the last year or so. But that is not because the tax rate has fallen. It is because so many high paying jobs have been lost in the state.

    I don't believe that prop 13 will do anything to resolve this.

    I also hear about redistricting and changing the 2/3rds majority.

    I don't believe that this will help us.

    Our expenditures are too high. We've lost too many corporations and too many high paying jobs.

    And you know the other reasons why. We don't need to have another "Denial Fest" about that.

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  26. The furloughs will means schools and district offices are closed. No one will be at work, period.

    I think that advocating about certain cuts as a community of parents, teachers, students, etc. could be powerful. Class size reduction is a good issue, I think:

    1. Smaller classes are better;

    2. Smaller classes avert layoffs/bumping;

    3. Averting layoffs/bumping keeps school staff cohesive;

    4. There are a variety of ways to come up with the money, including additional furlough days, foundations, cuts to central office funding (remember, the budget is a proposal and can be changed if people work together);

    5. Class size increases are hard on schools, teachers, parents, children, the future, etc. etc. This is an issue everyone can support;

    6. Smaller classes appear to help close performance gaps;

    7. Once class sizes go up, they don't go down quickly (the UESF contract allows for 31:1, I believe. What will happen if 2011-2012 is even worse financially?).

    In short, I think this is a good area for a community response that CSR is not something we are willing to sacrifice without serious consideration of other options.

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  27. 110,000,000 good reasons for me not be feel quilty about considering private schooling.

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  28. I believe that 6:27 has it exactly right, and I'm speaking as possibly the only person reading this who was an aware California voter when Prop. 13 was passed. (I voted no.)

    All these points by 6:27 are so sound that I'm singling them out:

    -- People living next door to each other [are] paying wildly different amounts.
    -- Prop 13 also lumps together corporate and residential properties.
    -- Prop 13 has sent our public services, including our schools, into a race to the bottom.
    -- We are not creating a business climate in this state if we allow our schools to head toward third world status.

    One thing I disagree with is that "Prop. 13 is still and will remain the third rail." Polls show that Prop. 13 is popular with people who are asked -- but I asked Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll once if people actually even know what it is, and he said no, most people don't. The Field Poll gives them a short description and then asks them if they approve or disapprove. Well, needless to say, that's not very valid. It's not the third rail if most people don't even know what it is, and their approval is based on reading a description of a few words.
    (You had to be born before June 1970 and living in California in June 1978 to vote on Prop. 13. I would bet that's a small percentage of the citizenry.)

    Prop. 13 was a creature of not even my parents' generation but my grandparents' -- really those born between maybe 1900-1915, people in their 60s and 70s when it passed in 1978. Those who were devoted to it have gone to the big low-taxes less-government haven in the sky.

    It's important to be aware that one big piece of Prop. 13 has already been removed, in Prop. 39 in 2000. That proposition reduced the margin required to pass a local school bond measure from 66.6% to 55%.

    If one piece can be removed, there's no reason at all that others can't be. Eliminating the supermajority requirement to pass the budget and creating a split roll are obvious and very promising avenues.

    There were various options proposed at the time for relieving homeowners of having to pay rapidly increasing property taxes on appreciation that was as yet on paper, but those options weren't pushed hard enough.

    A friend who's a tax preparer in Vermont tells me that property tax is based partly on the homeowner's income, so that opens up whole new possibilities. Researching how taxes on appreciating property values are handled state by state would be interesting.

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  29. Superintendent Garcia’s phony outrage over the class size increases might not be as pathetic as the cuts themselves, but it sure points out the penchant for political grandstanding within the administration.

    Here is what Garcia said only last March -

    “ Adding two children to each kindergarten classroom might not sound like a big deal, but it will save the district close to $1 million - money needed to help close a $29 million shortfall in the next school year.”

    In other words, he was just fine trading the 10% increase for $1 million.Yes, that's right - one million only.

    And while he didn’t seem terribly concerned about a 10% class size increase then, this is what he said earlier this week –

    "I absolutely take no pride in what I'm going to share with you," he said earlier in the day. "There are things in here that go against my beliefs."

    and

    he described (the cuts) as … "horrible and deplorable"...

    This year an approx. 12% class size increase is a disaster while only last year a 10% increase was sold as good fiscal management. I wish Mr. Garcia would get his sentiments prioritized.

    (By the way, Mr. Garcia was admonished by Board members for holding a press conference announcing the class size increases last March without consulting his Board first. But that is another story.)

    The district will have to pay a 20%penalty on the funding received from Tier I CSR. We save money from the layoffs, but we also lose money for increasing the class. And should class sizes go above 25the penalty goes to 30%. So layoffs are the absolute last thing the district should consider considering the dollar for dollar deficit reduction lessens as class size increases over the thresholds.

    Another amazing feature of the Supe’s new attitude is his willingness to cut administrative positions. Gee, considering that he increased administrative spending last year it is no wonder he is willing to negotiate down from a higher base. Here is what he told SF Kfiles in an interview in 2008 -

    "This is the biggest budget crisis in the history of California education. I’m amazed that everyone isn’t out on the streets saying this is outrageous. We all ought to be as mad as hell. Every day I go out and express my anger about the budget cuts..."

    Why then didn’t the Board and administration do more to cut last June’s budget and mitigate the massive cuts we have today? It should be noted that he raised class sizes to meet K application demands. That is bad planning.

    It is no coincidence that this budget "earthquake" happened suddenly at this time when it is getting late in the process to apply to private schools as an alternative.

    I just can't understand why Myong Leigh would counsel against cutting too much too soon, as Rachel cited him in her blog. Isn't it a chief financial officer's job to take preemptive action?

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  30. I agree. I don't see how this was any sort of surprise. Last year you had a huge budget shortfall but got saved one time by the rainy day fund. This year with your obligations going up 15% on your biggest cost (salaries/benefits/pensions) you expected what? That the revenue would somehow just appear? Do you not read the papers? Garcia acted like someone just came in and announced his car got stolen but if he didn't know it was going to be bad then he is incompetent or sticking his head in the sand.

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  31. "Note that the net AVERAGE income tax collected from individuals in California is much higher than it was even twenty years ago."

    That's as it should be. You have a wee thing called inflation, and in addition you have the fact that most of the costs of public services are labor, not capital expenditures or durable goods. So those costs track increases in labor costs, which grow faster than inflation, and so the cost of public services increases *faster* than inflation.

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  32. Thank you for the economics lesson.

    The cost of labor dominates in many other economic sectors, not just education and the public sector.

    Surprise!

    Workers in most of those other sectors have had to forego pensions and have had to accept many exemptions in their medical coverage, in order to bridge the gap between increased labor costs and the total growth in the economy.

    Why do we not have much growth in the economy?

    * Lack of investment in fundamental research?
    * Deregulation? Which may have permitted outsourcing and outright gambling in the financial sector? Check out some of Senator Bernie Sanders speeches
    * Increased competition from emerging markets?
    * A downward trajectory in the skill capacity of American workers?

    I'm sorry, but Californians tend to spend like it's halcyon 1958.

    We're not in Kansas anymore.

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  33. "The cost of labor dominates in many other economic sectors, not just education and the public sector."

    And for a lot of the private economy, capital expenditure & inventory cost is a large portion of costs. Not so for the public sector. Labor costs predominate. And the labor market is a market with an equilibrium between the private and public sector - both are in competition for labor, so the public sector has to be competitive with the private sector in terms of compensation.

    There are a lot of Reaganite fantasies on this blog. One is that waste, fraud and abuse is gonna make up for an aversion to tax. A second is that you can save money by screwing public employees. That works for a few years, but eventually the labor market has to re-equilibrate.

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  34. It depends upon what you call waste, fraud and abuse. If you think that the central office's main purpose is everything except promoting academic achievement, then I suppose you are right.

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  35. Just looking at $4 million being cut from STAR schools. I didn't put Paul Revere on my list, but I'm sure many people did thinking that this school was getting extra resources as an up and comer. I think that's rough. Then again, I suppose it's rough for all of us who listed schools under the impression there would be 20 to a class, etc.

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  36. "If you think that the central office's main purpose is everything except promoting academic achievement, then I suppose you are right."

    Central Admin is 4% of the district budget - $13 million. Even if you removed it completely you'd still have $100 million deficit.

    Anyone who thinks yapping about waste, fraud and abuse at central office is gonna get us out of this is indulging in magical thinking.

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  37. As far as I can tell, the District's STAR schools cut will come from exiting some schools from the program, and services will remain intact at the remaining STAR schools.

    ...Not that those services necessarily have an enormous impact on school resources; they are centrally-funded for resources the STAR program designates.

    Paul Revere is a QEIA school, right? Will those schools retain 20:1? They're handled differently - last year QEIA schools did not go 22:1 in K.

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  38. "Anyone who thinks yapping about waste, fraud and abuse at central office is gonna get us out of this is indulging in magical thinking."

    Another Anonymous Person,

    Waste, fraud and abuse isn't only about expenditures within the central office itself. The quality of central decisionmaking often affects costs across the entire district.

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  39. "Central Admin is 4% of the district budget - $13 million."

    That's a simplistic view of things.
    The problem with Central office, apart from their salaries, is the huge contracts they issue, the 3 million dollar contracts to snake-oil salesmen who wine and dine them, add up all the bogus 'consultant" fees they pass through, all the legal fees they submit (with no one asking why they spent 150K fighting a parent over 50K worth of services) add all that crap up submitted by central office that the BOE approves (without blinking) and you could get much closer to the 113 million.
    Face it, when you have people like Maufas who cannot even keep track of her own expenses

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


    when you have people that dim making decisions about multi-million dollar programs, there are going to be problems and huge mistakes.

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  40. The problem I have with the Central Office cuts is that they're really cuts to school sites for programs funded through the Central Office.

    For instance, they intend to cut Learning Support Professionals - who work full-time at schools. This is not a cut to functioning at the district offices, but it is classified as one. They are also making bit cuts to School Health, whose employees work at school sites.

    Some "Central Office" cuts will also make teacher layoffs and bumping worse if Teachers on Special Assignment re-enter the teaching pool. These teachers certainly know their stuff, but they've been out of the classrooms.

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  41. When people think of "Central Office" they think of the numerous administrators who do not set foot in classrooms, not learning support professionals.

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  42. The district is partially responsible for the mess we are in with the budget. Here's why:

    In June 2009 the district passed the most recent budget. Four months earlier the state passed an important piece of legislation that severely cut Tier III categorical funding, but it also flexed much of the remaining funding so that it could be used "for any educational purpose". After blowing a hole in the bulkhead they tried to help plug it.

    But SFUSD took no advantage whatsoever from the flexibility, apparently ignoring the efforts afforded to help plug the leak.

    This is what the California State Budget Advisory said in March of 2009:

    "While the fiscal challenges facing districts are immense, it’s
    important that boards consider this flexibility in the context
    of the district’s overall goals for student learning. This issue is
    obviously part of the immediate and difficult discussion about
    the specifics of the district’s 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets and
    the cuts the district must make. However, the board should also
    have a larger discussion to ensure that the flexibility is used to
    develop policy based on district and community priorities. The
    ability to transfer funds and to administer certain programs free
    of statutory constraints gives the board an opportunity to set the
    direction for the district’s educational program in the context of
    devastating cuts to education.

    What are the board and community’s priorities for
    student learning? How can flexibility best be used to
    support these priorities?
    • What are the alternatives if the board does not take
    advantage of the flexibility? Absent the ability to
    transfer funds from one program to another, what
    action would have to be taken, including how many
    staff would be affected and what changes to the
    program would have to be made to address the nearly
    20 percent reduction in funding?"

    Why didn't SFUSD take action to save us from these devastating class size increases?

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  43. "Waste, fraud and abuse isn't only about expenditures within the central office itself."

    ...and Don stays in the world of magical thinking.

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  44. Moronomous,

    When the district contracts for PD (ex. NUA)at a cost of 2-3 million at $2000/hour, that doesn't get expensed from the central office budget. But it is that office that proposes the expenditure with the customary nod of the board. Learn how budget decisionmaking works.

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  45. " Learn how budget decisionmaking works."

    You could zero out the Central Office and the PD contract and still have $97 million deficit left. Learn how arithmetic works.

    I know you want to devolve the problem down to waste, fraud and abuse by bad actors who've pissed you off for one reason or another, but the problem is structural (and mostly at the state level), not personal, and would remain even if the current SFUSD BoE were replaced by ideal Philosopher-Kings guided by Perfect Wisdom.

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  46. Man, some of you really don't like this Don guy. It takes two to tango.

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  47. Could we stop talking about him? BORING.

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  48. That's called back-pedalling. Yes, there is still a huge deficit even after your oblique admission of abuse of funds. I know I never said it was all about waste and abuse. I made the point here and on another string that it is not ONLY about Prop 13 and the legislative logjam in Sacramento. I never said it was just a case of abuse of funds. On the district level it is more about poor decisionmaking as I pointed out in my earlier post when I described how the district failed to take advantage of the flexibility, despite the warnings from the Budget Advisory not to. Learn to read -Mthing. Have an anonymous day.

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  49. 1:52pm,

    Just to let you know - not some people, one person, with an infinite number of sock puppets. Don't let it distract from what's important.

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