San Francisco schools prepare for the worst as new state budget battle looms 

Spending plan: The San Francisco Unified School District is readying a budget that assumes $4.8 billion in cuts. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • Spending plan: The San Francisco Unified School District is readying a budget that assumes $4.8 billion in cuts.

The San Francisco Unified School District will plan for a worst-case scenario after Gov. Jerry Brown issued a budget proposal that makes school funding contingent upon voters’ approval of a tax increase.

“How could we plan on what we don’t know?” Superintendent Carlos Garcia asked at the school board’s first official meeting of 2012 on Tuesday. “We have to make plans, and the only thing we can plan for is the worst-case scenario.”

The governor’s budget for 2012-13 includes $4.8 billion in “trigger cuts” to K-12 education. The cuts would be made if voters reject the governor’s proposed ballot initiative, which would raise taxes on individuals making $250,000 or more and raise the sales tax by half a percent.

Garcia warned there would be layoffs this year, a familiar tune for school employees who have become accustomed to receiving pink slips every March as California’s economic troubles have dragged on.

“We hear the same song and dance year after year,” said Linda Plack, vice president of United Educators of San Francisco. “The kids and teachers of this district, all the employees of this district, have already made extraordinary sacrifices to keep this district afloat.”

Plack said employees have sacrificed pay raises, professional development, bonuses for hard-to-staff positions and eight instructional days. The union will be negotiating a new contract this year, she said, and it will seek to reclaim those losses from the school district. Plack suggested the school board should look to its central administration for cost savings.

“I think the district has expanded its bureaucracy in an unconscionable fashion,” she said. “We feel the money has to be spent in the classroom.”

Nancy Waymack, the SFUSD’s executive director for policy and planning, said that while it was too early to discuss layoffs, the district spends about 80 percent of its budget on personnel.

“It looks like in the best-case scenario, we’re still fighting to keep the status quo,” she said. “We’re not at the point where we’re catching up.”

Also, Norman Yee was unanimously voted school board president.

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