Despite lingering uncertainty about the outcome of labor negotiations and the amount of state funding that will be available after voters have their say on proposed tax increases in November, the San Francisco school board unanimously approved an austere but balanced 2012-13 budget Tuesday night.
“I think that we’d be less than honest with the public if we didn’t tell you that we wish this was a better budget,” said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia, who is retiring after this month. “We’re victims of circumstance in a state that is too cheap to fund education for itschildren.”
The budget includes four furlough days for teachers, a slight increase in class sizes for third graders, and a 1.7 percent cut in the money sent directly to schools. Board members also learned Tuesday that things will get worse than expected if California voters do not approve proposed tax increases that will be on the ballot in November.
The SFUSD budget assumes that a tax increase promoted by Gov. Jerry Brown will pass, Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh said at the board meeting. Should the proposition fail, the state will cut funding for the SFUSD by as much as $24 million, or 6.6 percent of the district’s discretionary funding. To help districts cope with such substantial cuts, the state is considering allowing them to trim days from the school year, which could result in just 160 total, down from 180 before the financial crisis.
“We do have a serious issue with the prospect of these taxes not passing in November,” Leigh said.