SAN FRANCISCO – For the first time, San Francisco Unified School District unveiled its plan to cut $125 million from next year’s budget in hopes of avoiding a state takeover.
Parents and teachers sounded off. Some are not too happy with the proposed cuts. District leaders recognized it’s a painful and difficult process but said it is necessary.
“We are under very tight timeframe targeting December 14 at the regular meeting,” said SFUSD Chief Financial Officer Meghan Wallace.
With six weeks to go to get final approval from the San Francisco Board of Education, district officials introduced their plan to trim $125 million from the budget.
“What you will see is overall the balancing plan proposal includes $90 million of reductions to expenditures,” said Ann Marie Gordon, executive director of budget services at SFUSD.
It also includes a hope to find another $35 million in additional funding. According to the United Educators of San Francisco, the plan calls for hundreds of positions to be cut.
Among them include in programs such as enhanced social-emotional supports, peer resources, JROTC, special education, multilingual pathways and community schools coordinators.
“This is not a proposal to eliminate our community schools approach,” said Gordon. “We want to move toward a more systematic implementation of a community schools model.”
Officials said they based their rationale on several guiding principals that include looking at programs that serve a smaller number of students and scaling back on enhanced services.
“We want to make sure what we can do what is core but where we had any kind of nice to have enhancements really look at how we can be leaner and streamlined,” said Gordon.
“I am flabbergasted and terrified to cuts to special education,” said a special education teacher at Washington High School. “My colleagues and I are already overwhelmed as it is.”
“This is not the first SFUSD rodeo with deficit talk,” said Cassondra Curiel, president of the United Educators of San Francisco.
The district blames declining enrollment for less state funding but Curiel said the district needs organizational restructuring.
“When it comes to cutting positions at school sites, we are unequivocally a no,” said Curiel.
The California Department of Education has officially appointed a fiscal expert to assist the district with its budget. The budget plan must be submitted to the state by December 15.