Carranza: Historic levels of funding for our schools 

When San Francisco prospers, so do our children. As you may recall, in November, more than two-thirds of San Francisco residents approved renewing the Public Education Enrichment Fund.

That’s really good news for our public schools and last week, the Board of Education unanimously approved a $60 million budget for art classes, physical education teachers, school nurses, social workers and librarians.

It is the largest allocation in the fund’s 10-year history and it pays for exactly the things everybody assumes have been cut from public schools.

Let’s take a walk down the halls of our schools and see all of the amazing student opportunities San Francisco voters are making possible in our schools with PEEF.

LIBRARIES

Prior to PEEF, only 23 percent of schools were staffed by a teacher librarian. That number has tripled over the past decade. There have been upgrades in technology, and library collections that are current, relevant, engaging and accessible to all students.

Physical education and sports

Before PEEF, there were no credentialed PE teachers in our elementary schools. Now, almost all have PE

specialists — along with equipment and support — in to 100 percent of our kindergarten through fifth-grade schools. PEEF has also meant that we now have 600 paid athletic coaches who serve nearly 400 teams. Last school year, PEEF provided 1,646 bus trips for athletes to get to games.

Arts and music classes

During the recession, PEEF funding allowed us to not only preserve the number of elementary school arts teachers, but increase staffing by 50 percent.

Now all our elementary schools have art teachers. At the same time, we’ve increased middle school art classes and maintained arts in our high schools.

Student support and wellness

PEEF funds the social workers and nurses who provide on-site services to kindergarten through eighth-grade students, and the district has been able to triple the number of social workers and nurses. Our high schools are served by the San Francisco Wellness Initiative, which provides free, confidential services to students.

Translation and interpretation

These services are vital for our families. Since PEEF, we’ve been able to provide interpreting services at 40 times the number of events, and we’ve added services in even more languages, including Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Samoan.

Why all this matters

Schools must educate the whole child. Our children need music and physical activities, outdoor education, and caring and supportive adults, and involved families just as much as literacy and math skills.

Thanks to PEEF, we kept these things on life support during the recession, and now, with a robust new budget, we can finally focus on growing these programs so they — and our students — are dancing, painting, playing, thinking, reading and feeling well.

Richard A. Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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