SF set to boost school district budget again 

click to enlarge The SFUSD’s $478 million budget for the 2014-15 school year is a $48 million increase over last year. - JEFF CHIU/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Jeff Chiu/AP File photo
  • The SFUSD’s $478 million budget for the 2014-15 school year is a $48 million increase over last year.

The San Francisco Unified School District expects another amplified budget for the coming school year after years of cuts and stagnant funding.

The $478 million spending plan is roughly $48 million greater than the 2013-14 budget, which at the time was meatier than in recent years.

But district officials were quick to caution that San Francisco's public schools are not out of the woods yet.

"We're still climbing out of the cellar from back in 2008 or so," said Myong Leigh, deputy superintendent for policy and operations, referring to when the SFUSD's budget was slashed by about 15 percent.

District officials attribute the increased funding largely to the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives school districts more flexibility to address specific academic priorities, according to Leigh.

In 2014-15, nearly $403 million -- or 84 percent -- of the district's revenue will come from the Local Control Funding Formula, compared to $363 million from the funding formula last year. Enacted in 2013, the funding formula accounts for the majority of state money for the SFUSD.

A portion of the extra money, some $10 million, will go toward restoring site budgets and providing additional support -- such as social workers, nurses, coaches and literacy specialists -- to the lowest-performing schools, Leigh said.

"School site budgets have been whacked pretty hard over the past few years," Leigh said. "As funds start to trickle in, we want to have some of our school site budgets see some of those restorations."

The ending fund balance appears to be increasing by about $900,000 from last school year, with an anticipated $25.6 million remaining by the end of 2014-15. That maintains the 2 percent reserve and will provide some security for SFUSD in the future, district officials noted.

Unlike last year, the district expects to spend slightly less than it will have available -- $477 million spent versus $478 million generated.

Per the state budget approved this month, the SFUSD will have to spend an additional $1.5 million on CalSTRS, the state's pension fund for teachers.

The district also budgeted about $354 million for most employee salaries, including teachers, who are asking for their first pay raise in five years. Leigh said that's an additional $10 million over last year.

However, district officials and United Educators of San Francisco, representing more than 4,000 teachers, are still negotiating over things such as wages and benefits, hours of employment and class size.

That has prompted the district to declare an impasse and bring in a mediator to help facilitate the conversation, Superintendent Richard Carranza wrote in a letter to district staff last week.

The Board of Education is slated to approve the budget at its meeting tonight.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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