Joint body of supes, educators sets goals 

After a yearlong recess, the joint Board of Supervisors-Board of Education committee is back with an ambitious agenda that includes transportation safety, minority education and violence prevention.

The six-member committee will not be able to create new policies or pass legislation, but will hold semimonthly hearings on a variety of issues to improve city and school services for children and families. The committee’s recommendations will then go to the Board of Supervisors.

Last year, tensions arose from some supervisors around several school district issues, including school closures and "enrichment funds" for schools paid through The City’s coffers. The committee’s structure, which allowed supervisors to control the agendas, also created a power imbalance between the two agencies.

Members are committed to doing things differently this time. The committee’s chairman, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, said school board members will be able to request as many agenda items as they would like.

"It’s hard to do joint planning. It’s like we’re two different cultures," said Margaret Brodkin, director of The City’s Department of Children, Youth and their Families. "This is an extremely important committee, even if it doesn’t have any official jurisdiction. It could become a forum. We’re committed to blending our resources."

Brodkin, who led Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth before Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed her to head DCYF, gave the committee a laundry list of issues she wants members to address in the upcoming year. Career development, shared facilities, parent education, recreation space, and affordable housing and parking spaces for teachers topped her list.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell requested information and a hearing on the San Francisco Unified School District’s strategy for teaching black and Hispanic boys.

"How are we treating them in the alternative schools?" Maxwell asked. "Are they graduating, going on to college? What’s the strategy?"

Board of Education Commissioner Jill Wynns cautioned the committee against telling the school district to change its programs.

"I want to know what the situation is. We should be able to talk about issues and come up with a program," Maxwell said.

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