SF school district gets financial help

May 7, 2008 6:51:43 PM PDT
San Francisco's school district is having its own money problems, but is getting a partial bailout from the city's rainy day fund.

That means all teachers will keep their jobs, but kids may not have a bus to get them to school.

San Francisco teacher Robin Mantius got word the school district had rescinded her layoff.

"In the first year of teaching, it's kind of overwhelming. I have enough to deal with without worrying about the Summer and not having any money," said Mantius.

In March, the school district had given notice of possible layoffs to 535 teachers.

But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors officially approved between $18 and $20 million of the rainy day fund for the school district.

"In terms of the board and the mayor if anything is going to work at City Hall it's when they are both on the same page and almost 100 percent, that's what it's been about," said San Francisco supervisor Tom Ammiano.

They're not out of the woods yet. There is still a $13 million shortfall.

"We're looking at transportation costs, getting some monies there. We're going through every department and ask them to make proposals of three percent cuts," said superintendent Carlos Garcia.

The district spends $20 million a year on transportation costs; $14 million alone to transport special education students.

If you break it down, the district says it spends $10,000 a year on each special education student, that's more than what the district gets from the state to educate each child.

The cost is so high, because there are less special education students and each one is dropped off at their home. Sometimes, there is just one special education student on a bus.

But by law the district must continue to provide transportation for them, but not for general education students. They cost the district $6 million -- $1,000 a year per student.

"Basically parents who are expecting and wanting or desiring and needing transportation for their children from one part of town to the other would have to find other means to get to their school or perhaps look at schools in their neighborhoods a little closer for the next season," said the President of the Board of Education Mark Sanchez.

Asfa Iqbal is a parent. She says drawing students from different neighborhoods guarantees diversity.

"A lot of kids they are coming from very far and the parents cannot come with them and the parents work. I don't like this," said Iqbal.

But again nothing has been decided yet. Sanchez says he would like to keep school buses rolling for general education kids. The district has until the end of June to come up with a balanced budget.


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