School district is missing chance to make money 

As the school district battles a multimillion-dollar deficit, partial relief of the fiscal woes may be sitting under officials’ feet.

The San Francisco Unified School District is flush with buildings and recreational space, and it could share the facilities with the community while making extra money, according to a study out of UC Berkeley.

The report, which will be discussed at a school committee meeting today, detailed how underutilized San Francisco’s school facilities are, even while classes are in session.

San Francisco has more than 200 facilities and more than 9 million square feet of space across The City. But declining enrollment — now estimated at 55,000 — frees up more space for the community to use, according to the report.

Currently, there are 134 schools and 127 acres of outdoor space immediately available for community use, according to a report titled “San Francisco’s Public School Facilities as Public Assets.”

While the school district is shelling out more than $126 million on building expenses, including maintenance and upgrades, it’s recouping less than 1 percent of that by renting out facilities to the community, said Jeff Vincent, deputy director of the Center For Cities and Schools, which authored the report.

The report suggested there be a fee structure in which private companies wanting to use facilities would be charged more than other outside groups that would use the facilities for programs that benefit students, such as for sports or tutoring groups.

On average, the district issues 1,200 facility-use permits annually, with 78 percent of those for private entities, Vincent said.

“I do think that they could charge less to nonprofits providing services to students while at the same time getting more revenue from facilities use, and that happens from shifting the cost to more private-type users,” Vincent said.

As the district struggles with a $113 million budget deficit, school board members began looking at possible ways to generate new money, including renting out parking lots, buildings and fields.

Hydra Mendoza, vice president of the Board of Education, said the district needs to start proactively soliciting its facilities to make money.

“I think, as a board, we are absolutely hoping it will generate some income,” Mendoza said.

But it’s not just about making money, she said. There are plenty of tightly packed neighborhoods, such as the Mission district, where park space is scarce and community centers are in high demand. Opening up school grounds to benefit families only makes sense, Mendoza said.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

 

Large district, large deficit

A UC Berkeley report says the SFUSD is missing an opportunity to generate revenue.

200 Facilities
9 million Square feet of space
55,000 K-12 students
$113 million Budget shortfall

Source: SFUSD

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