The District’s Fiscal Future

Posted on May 10, 2024



Happy Friday UESF members! As we wrap up “teacher appreciation week,” I hope you received well-deserved celebrations and gestures of appreciation and solidarity.  The cornerstones of our school communities are the educators, students and families. It is time the California Department of Education and SFUSD district leadership respect this fact.

On Tuesday, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, issued a scathing report on the fiscal health of the District as well as the many gross deficiencies in internal management and protocols. At the same time, FCMAT stated very clearly that the District is “nowhere near state takeover” and that the most recent audit acknowledged the organization is moving in the right direction. This statement is important.

Together, as a union, we are fighting for the schools our students deserve on multiple fronts. One is holding management to a high standard and relentlessly forcing them to change a decades-long culture of informality, nepotism and lack of accountability. You, your colleagues, your students and your families have had to confront the difficult reality of these failings first-hand, which is why you’ve been organizing to demand accountability. Most of those responsible for the problems of today are no longer even working in SFUSD.  

A second front is the preparations underway for the California Alliance for Community Schools campaign that will specifically target the need for increased funding for education, specifically from the State of California. UESF has directly observed the many structural deficiencies named in the FCMAT report, much of which we called-out in the 2 research papers issued this school year. Forcing any school district to provide high quality education with only the crumbs offered by our state government, the 5th largest economy in the world, is criminal gaslighting. The State of CA, and the private corporation they’ve contracted to oversee districts called FCMAT, can claim they are upholding the public interest, but they don’t take responsibility for starving school districts in the first place. 

In the recently completed contract struggle, you and your colleagues forced the current leadership of the District to realize, rightfully, that historic raises couldn’t wait any longer. District management did the right thing and agreed to implement a clear plan for meaningful and equitable educator raises, finally investing the money they had all along. 

Your union has not stood idly by simply blaming every District leader for the consequences of 20 years of mismanagement. Both Payday Loans and Pumpkin Patches and Restructure It Right offer solutions to the current crises of the District. This includes the reduction of central office management, the managing of District properties, the improvement of the Special Ed Department, the reorganization of the Enrollment Center and, in all cases, the naming of staff accountable to outcomes. It was our intense pressure that forced the District to stabilize the Empower crisis. We see the District improving in this area and that is due to the power and relentlessness of your union. Together, we are fighting and winning the schools our students deserve.

The FCMAT report, in conjunction with the audit report, made it clear that the District is moving in the right direction.  As we said in a statement UESF released Tuesday May 7 “The California Department of Education’s intervention in SFUSD’s March budget qualification has the potential to directly oppose the interests of students, educators and our school communities. It is in our students’ best interests to have educators ready to educate in August when we start the 2024-2025 school year. SFUSD was working to ensure those conditions by rescinding layoffs in the midst of growing vacancies, in order to place qualified educators in students’ classrooms. Having inherited decades of fiscal mismanagement, the current SFUSD management has finally committed to cutting central office department budgets, reducing expensive unrepresented central management positions and streamlining programs and services.”

You and your school-site colleagues’ focus must continue to be building power at sites as we set our eyes on next year’s bargaining, where the lack of funding by the State of California will ultimately play a central role. To wrap up the school year in solidarity, join your union siblings from across the district for the May 18th Membership Conference @ John O’Connell High School, where we will also hold the membership recommendation meeting for the endorsement of Board of Education Candidates. There are 4 seats up for election, this is the majority of the board. Electing BOE members that reject privatization, defend public education and pledge to support our fight for the schools our students deserve is critical. Your participation is what makes your union strong and a strong union is what is transforming San Francisco public schools. Enjoy your weekend and see you next Saturday!