In-kind aid beats cash for schools, supes say 

Several city officials are grumbling about how much money San Francisco’s public schools are getting out of The City’s general fund as a result of a voter-approved schools-funding measure and want the school board to look for more ways to take city services instead of cash.

The spending debate is about Proposition H funds — passed in 2004 with the promise of providing San Francisco’s public schools with educational extras, such as sports, libraries, arts and music.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd introduced a resolution Tuesday asking the school district to take a second look at its 2007-08 school year spending plan to find ways that city services, or "in-kind services," could be offered instead of cash. The resolution was co-sponsored by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Ed Jew.

Elsbernd said $10 million of the $30 million the school district is slated to receive from The City’s general fund next year could be in-kind. Examples of in-kind services are city nurses working in school clinics, police officers who are assigned to campuses and city-supported after-school programs on school sites.

The school district has proposed $250,000 worth of in-kind services, which Elsbernd said was a start, but just "a drop in the bucket."

Elsbernd accused the district of ignoring repeated requests from the Board of Supervisors during the last three years to increase the amount of in-kind support as The City struggles with ongoing budget deficits.

"We are just not here as an ATM where you [the school district] can take money from us and walk away," Elsbernd said.

School board President Mark Sanchez said on Monday that he would support taking more in-kind funding in the future, but said he did not think it was fair for the supervisors to ask, at this point, for the school boardto reconsider the spending plan. The plan was approved last week.

"We’re trying to the best of our capacity to use these funds appropriately," Sanchez said. "I hope the Board of Supervisors understands that we’re also in financial straits."

City officials are also investigating whether existing support provided to the schools could be credited against the amount owed to the district, according to City Controller Ed Harrington. For example, The City already provides funding for school health centers.

School officials and members of the district’s community advisory committee on Prop. H have bristled at such suggestions, arguing that voters expect the schools to get extra support through actual dollars.

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