Friday, February 26, 2010

SF Chronicle: Ideas aplenty to deal with cuts at S.F. schools

This from Jill Tucker at the SF Chronicle:
Anger and frustration simmered among the people in a standing-room-only crowd Thursday night at a town hall meeting at San Francisco's Marina Middle School, as parents demanded solutions rather than explanations for the severe cuts to staff and programs at their children's schools.
An estimated 860 people crammed into the school's auditorium; the overflow spilled into the cafeteria to watch a video feed.


  1. The only thing that has a has any hope of making a difference is a parcel tax.

  2. Since the budget mess began, we've heard talk about SFUSD increasing class size to 25.

    Is that still just a proposal, or is it official policy for next year?

    And how about the year after? I once heard class size would then be raised to 30, but I don't know if that was truth or simply conjecture.

  3. "It's distressing to see the class size go up in K-3 classrooms. We're the richest country in the world."

    The United States has the same per capita debt as Greece: about $40,000 per head.

  4. Why do homeowners always get hit up for all the bucks?

    Go after the FEDS, not ME

    This country has really messed-up priorities:

  5. Why do homeowners always get hit up for all the bucks?

    A parcel tax hits all the landowners, not just the single-family dwelling owners. Renters are hit just like owners. It hits commercial property owners just like residents. It's also a tax on wealth rather than income.

    But if you want to whine and snivel about how you're being singled out to pay taxes that nobody else has to pay, I suppose you don't really need a logical reason to support it. Go ahead. Whine and snivel. Just don't expect me to say, "There, there," and offer to get you a tissue.

  6. s9
    Golly, what an unpleasant person you are!

    I was making the point that rather than raise taxes on everybody, the FEDS stop spending appalling amounts of money on stupid wars that have nothing to do with us, and divert the money to schools and WHAT IS HAPPENING IN our OWN COUNTRY.

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  8. Moggy, I'm an unpleasant person these days because I'm sick unto death of people refusing to do what it takes to keep our public schools from being dismantled and sold off to cut-outs for Goldman Sachs.

    Yes, yes, yes it would be very nice if our federal government weren't held captive by a rump minority of neaderthals, deficit peacocks, egocentric sociopaths and religious nutbars. But it is, and there isn't any way you're going to get them to pay attention long enough to realize that San Francisco needs federal help to keep its public school system from collapsing.

    If you want to fix the school district budget in San Francisco without further decimating the expenditure level, then you're going to need to raise revenues in San Francisco. There aren't very many practical options for doing that. But go ahead and deny reality if that helps you cope with it. But it would be better if more people faced up to the facts.

  9. I campaigned for Prop A, but it sucks that I have to pay the same amount as a business worth 20 million dollars ...

    ... the homeowners are getting sick of this, and if you cannot see that, then you are the one incapable of seeing THE FACTS

  10. Well, if the homeowners would rather see the public schools sacrificed so they can keep their property taxes low in San Francisco, then I suppose that's up to them, and we'll see how well that turns out.

  11. A parcel tax to provide transportation money at the middle school level, and to restore parental choice of schools at the middle school level, is something I would support. I tie a possible parcel tax to student assignment policy.

  12. @mibb:

    Currently, 24:1 K and 27:1 1 - 3.

    SFUSD has variously mentioned 25:1, 30:1, and maintaining "20:1" (22:1 in K this year).

  13. 8:21
    LOW is correct. Some of the best school districts in NY not only receive a lot more money from the state government (also in DEEP fiscal trouble) but have property taxes that are about triple what we pay in SF. Property taxes are higher percentage-wise all over but there are plenty of places in NY state that rival SF in housing costs and still pay over 3x what we do and most of that money goes directly to their schools.

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  15. LOW is correct.

    Yeah, and when I seriously contemplate whether I'd like to see San Francisco become more like New York City or more like Colorado Springs, I don't have to think very hard.

    I suppose Moggy might prefer Colorado Springs. Something like 2/3 of the living wage jobs there are tied to the military-industrial complex, though— so, if the defense spigot ever got turned off like she seems to hope will happen somehow, then she shouldn't be surprised to see it turn into a vast wasteland of tumbleweeds and crank labs pretty much the very next day. Not my idea of a livable community, but hey— keep hope alive.

  16. Wow s9, I've gotta say, I was supportive of the idea of a one time parcel tax but reading your posts really turned me around. You make it so difficult to support a cause with such an acerbic attitude toward the very people you are asking to pay. I am quite literally staring at the tax bill right now and it lists a $32.20 tax for "SFUSD Facility Dist" and a $204.16 tax for "SF-Teacher Support". I would have been fine with another $200 bill that lasted for two years to cover but now I'm convinced not only would it be poorly spent and wasted (more admins! yay!) but completely not appreciated. I will vote no.

  17. ...but reading your posts really turned me around.

    Sure. I believe that.

  18. The equalization of revenue limit funds (the Serrano Band) came about as a result of inequities at schools which were funded directly through property taxes. A poorer community would have to tax itself at a much higher level than a richer community to get the same amount of tax to operate schools.

    Using parcel taxes is very similar. Richer districts will end up funding their schools more often than poorer, that are more likely to refuse to raise their taxes further, especially during hard times. Even if SF did pass a parcel tax, which I doubt it could, this "fix" is a poor way of funding education and runs the risk of turning off voters for education funding in general, though it is better than issuing bonds. The real fix needs to come through Prop 13 and categorical reform.

  19. "Even if SF did pass a parcel tax, which I doubt it could, this "fix" is a poor way of funding education and runs the risk of turning off voters for education funding in general, though it is better than issuing bonds. The real fix needs to come through Prop 13 and categorical reform."

    I usually find Don's posts annoying, but this was spot on. Thanks Don, although I'd want to see a short-lived parcel tax to get us over this friggin' awful hump and reduce the pain to our students and teachers until Sacramento starts working again.

    [On another point: term limits for state legislators? Worked real well, didn't it, to have a quarter of the legislators newbies on the job.]