SF's troubled budget spills over onto schools

November 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A new report by the city controller says San Francisco's economic outlook is worse than expected. The city's financial problems are spilling over into the schools.

Marylou Remo is said to be the glue that holds together Malcolm X Academy -- an elementary school in the city's Bay View neighborhood.

"She is the glue as well as the glitter," says Malcolm X Academy principal Imani Cooley.

But at the end of the month, she may be gone, replaced by a soon-to-be laid off city health care worker with more seniority. It's a different department, but the same labor union. The process is called "bumping."

"It's more than city policy, it's state law and the rules to administer are set by the Civil Service Commission, which is a public body," says Micki Callahan, the city's human resources director.

For the past two weeks, teachers, students and parents have protested and gathered petitions. In all 60 school district employees will be impacted, but it's the secretaries, who are the focus of rallies.

"Our children have gone through so many transitions just this school year, a new principal, new teachers family members lost?that's a bit much," says Cooley.

One 9-year-old says Marylou Remo has become family.

"It's like I had two moms, the mom at home and the mom I have here. I can't let Miss Marylou go," says Litia Lelea, a student at Malcolm X Academy.

Two supervisors have introduced legislation to take $8 million from the city's reserve to avoid bumping the secretaries, but Supervisor Sean Elsbernd believes the city can't afford that.

"The bottom line, I hope for everybody, needs to be dollars. We don't have them, we can't be spending them right now, they're not there," said San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Numbers released Monday afternoon at City Hall by the controller's office show the city is already $53 million in the hole for the fiscal year that began just a few months ago in July.

So now the controller is now refusing to sign-off on any move to raid the city's coffers, which is bad news for the secretaries and their supporters.


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