Mayor wants school district budget solutions 

click to enlarge Lee said there are no strings attached to his suggestion. - JOSEPH SCHELL/SPECIAL TO THE SF EXAMINER
  • Joseph Schell/Special to The SF Examiner
  • Lee said there are no strings attached to his suggestion.

Mayor Ed Lee reaffirmed Wednesday his desire for a long-term solution to the hundreds of teacher pink slips and other budget headaches that the San Francisco Unified School District scrambles to avoid each year.

Speaking at the retirement announcement of Superintendent Carlos Garcia, Lee clarified his recent comments regarding the potential release of about $6 million from The City’s rainy-day fund, which was created in 2003 to fill the district’s funding gaps.

Earlier this month, Lee said release of the money would be accompanied by a condition that the district reevaluate its unused property to potentially generate more revenue. But Assemblyman Tom Ammiano — who spearheaded the fund as a city supervisor — said the money should not be “held hostage” in that way.

The mayor also faced scrutiny about his comments at Tuesday’s monthly question time with the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor David Campos expressed concern that any strings attached to release of the funding would violate the spirit of the fund.

“I don’t see this as strings attached,” Lee responded, adding that status quo for the school’s budget is a woeful option. “We all agree that the schools are facing a crisis.”

Wednesday, Lee tried to smooth things over with school officials by saying that City Hall wants to solidify its “special relationship” with the district, which it does not directly oversee but with which it maintains much closer ties than in most other California cities.

Mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey later said that the mayor only wants a review of the district’s assets, even if savings or new revenue are not identified.

According to the district, leases, rentals and permits to its surplus property bring in about $4.8 in annual revenue, most of which comes from school-owned ground that’s now home to downtown’s Westfield Mall.

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