SFUSD proposes tough budget cuts to avoid a state takeover
The San Francisco Education Committee faced challenges during the pandemic – an upcoming three-member recall election, a board member who filed a lawsuit against the district itself and then dismissed it, and then there was a school renaming plan that was criticized across the country .
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Well, another difficult moment as the district is facing a $ 125 million deficit for the next year, cutting 10% of its $ 1.2 billion annual budget as a result.
“Schools would experience changes, which would lead to cuts in school locations,” said Anne Marie Gordon, SFUSD Executive Director of Budget Services.
On Tuesday, the district budget directors presented a plan that includes the following cuts:
- Special education staff
- Multilingual program staff
- Downsizing the math class
- Peer resources
- Improved social emotional support
SFUSD families and staff, such as 23-year-old special education teacher Miss Abrams, have expressed serious concerns about the proposed changes.
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“Special education teachers are already overworked and overwhelmed by the school district. These cuts will have a negative impact on our weakest students and at the same time drive even more qualified special education teachers out of our district.”
The school board has to approve a budget rehabilitation plan by December 15 to avoid a government takeover. In the meantime, the state has hired tax expert Elliott Duchon to oversee the process.
“The next steps become more serious if the CDE is not satisfied with the level of collaboration with the tax expert or the county is not making reasonable progress,” said Duchon, who said this could include “hiring freezes for certain positions and freezing non-essential” Expenditure.”
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The school district is pointing to years of declining enrollments that have worsened during the pandemic due to much of its financial constraints, but Joe Nation, professor of public policy and pension expert at Stanford, says there is a bigger problem.
“There are over 1,000 school districts in California and over 1,000 school districts have a problem,” said Nation, who said that the cost of retirement and the lack of pension reform were to blame.
“In general, every school district today pays about double, maybe a little more than double what it paid for pensions about six to eight years ago,” Nation said, continuing, “that’s really more than anything else from this one Pension crisis driven. “
There will be several school committee meetings in the coming weeks to work out a final plan for the country.
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