SFUSD cuts could impact gains 

City schools will have fewer school days, programs, teachers and administrators, reducing their chances of maintaining the steady improvements made in recent years.

A long list of cuts was approved Tuesday by the Board of Education for next fiscal year, as the San Francisco Unified School District tries to remedy a historic two-year, $113 million deficit.

The cuts include four fewer days on the school calendar, pink slips for hundreds of teachers, no summer school for most students, and cuts to physical education, the arts and counseling services, the district said.

The reductions are necessary to offset yet another round of massive reductions in state funding, the district’s largest money source. The SFUSD has joined other California school districts in a lawsuit against the state for underfunding education.

The cuts threaten the steady progress The City’s public schools have made in recent years to increase student test scores, close the achievement gap and force truant kids into classrooms, according to the district.

Superintendent Carlos Garcia predicts the deficit to balloon by another $10 million or so next year due to further state cuts.

“Next year, we will probably have to make a few more cuts, unfortunately,” he said. “How long can we continue this? I don’t know if we can go any further.”

From 2008 to ’09, average standardized test scores in English, science, history and social science improved three points, an increase that allowed the district to keep its title as the best-performing urban school district in California. The result was an all-time high for the district and capped eight straight years of academic growth.

While the district has been able to do more with less state funding, top educators admit resources are being stretched to the limit. After all, the district’s three-point increase in test scores last year was marginal compared to California’s average scores, which leapt by 13 points.

The district made no gains in closing the achievement gap, which weighs the quality of education black and Hispanic students receive compared to whites and Asians.

And while strides have been made in reducing truancy, having fewer school days and summer school options means more days in which kids are on the streets rather than in classrooms.

“All the research tells us what the negative impact on education [fewer school days] will have,” board Commissioner Jill Wynns said.

Despite the funding woes, the district will not pursue a parcel tax in November, Garcia said.


How SFUSD is balancing its budget

Cuts for 2010-11 school year to chip away at two-year, $113 million deficit:

$5.7 million Four furlough days for all SFUSD staff

$5.2 million Reduce central-office expenditures

$3.5 million Fewer paid professional development hours for teachers

$1.9 million Use arts, physical education and counseling funds to close deficit

$1.4 million No summer school for most students

$2.9 million Reduce facility expenses

$1 million No paid sabbaticals for teachers

$1.2 million Use state funding for teacher training to close deficit

$1.25 million Fewer school bus services for general-education students

District design

$482.6 million Total revenue (restricted and unrestricted)

$492.1 million Total expenditures (restricted and unrestricted)

50,315 Average daily attendance at San Francisco public schools

$113 million Projected deficit during next two years

$18 billion Cuts to state’s education budget during past two years

Source: San Francisco Unified School District

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