School district comes up millions short

The San Francisco Unified School District is going on the chopping block again. Next school year, the district faces deep cuts as it will receive only $567 million to cover costs for The City’s 56,000 students.

While $567 million sounds like a lot, district officials say at least $30 million more is needed to cover the $597 million budgeted for payroll, student programs and administrative costs.

The district plans to dip into reserve funds and use an extra $6 million from SF’s Rainy Day Fund to help cover costs.

And even then, there will still be lots of cuts. For starters, the academic year will be shorter with only 176 days instead of the usual 180. Teachers will be required to take four furlough days. Other district staff will take five days.

The board will vote on a proposed budget this week. If it passes, you can expect third-grade class sizes to increase from 20 to 22, human resources will see a 27 percent cut, and facilities administration will be cut by 30 percent.

Board Vice President Rachel Norton told The Chronicle:

“I think one of the failures of our budget documents is that it’s really hard to compare this year to last year and to see where the cuts are. They’re basically everywhere.”

Despite all of these cuts though, the proposed budget would do away with teacher layoffs and increase summer school spending by nearly 70 percent to $800,000.

Just to maintain the current level of custodial and security services, the district will need to spend $33.2 million next year, $3.2 million more than it did this year.

And to add fuel to the fire, the district is currently dealing with the teachers union over a new contract. Since the board has to decide on the budget by Saturday, they are basing the plan around their current position which includes the four teacher furlough days. Any changes made to teacher contracts could amend the budget later.

In the end, Norton repeated a familiar lament:

“We say it every year: There’s nowhere else to cut.”