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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sad, sad SFUSD math problem

The San Francisco Unified School District is facing over $113 million in a massive budget shortfall. With state revenues plummeting and no signs of improvement, the district sent out over 900 pink slips last week; 318 of those were sent to schoolteachers. 

With the possibility of layoffs increasingly present, Superintendent Carlos Garcia announced a plan to minimize expenditures. Some of his suggestions have already been approved: Summer school has been terminated, safety and violence prevention programs have been excised, and other drastic measures that cut teacher training and staff development have also been implemented. 

With the addition of a district-wide furlough of four days, Garcia's measures will save at $51 million, although this still falls dangerously short of the projected shortfall. Unless the district somehow receives the $62 million difference, more program cuts, layoffs, and reductions will possibly occur in order to balance the budget and to keep the district from falling into debt. 

This degree of public divestment in this limited period of time is certain to have negative consequences on the student body as well as staff and faculty. The loss of state categorical programs, cuts in art and music programs, the elimination of school safety programs, and reductions in district bus service will present new social, psychological, and accessibility challenges to all involved. 

In the last decade as a method of saving money, the Board of Education has closed or consolidated over 14 public schools which displaced and disoriented students, destroyed friendships, and damaged already wounded communities. The saddest result of the closures is that very little money relative to the shortfall was saved and none of the closures were enough to avert this breaking point. 

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