SFUSD looking at cost-cutting measures as enrollment continues to decline

J.R. Stone Image
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
SFUSD looking at cost-cutting measures as enrollment declines
During a presentation Tuesday night, the district revealed that they have lost 4,000 students since 2012 and expect to lose another 4,600 in the next nine years. Here's why parents are worried.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Unified School District is facing a severe financial crisis. The district held a special meeting Tuesday evening to address that.

The district says their schools should be at 95% capacity but they're at 91%. They've gone from 53,000 students in 2012 to 49,000 students now. Tuesday's meeting is the start of what will be a months-long conversation about what they should do and what they will do. No schools have been put on the chopping block yet.

Nearly every seat was full at the SFUSD special meeting to address budgeting, staffing, and planning, but most in the crowd were concerned about possible school closures.

"We don't need to close any schools, it's managerial incompetency," said Noah Sloss of the San Francisco Education Alliance.

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Concerned teachers, parents and community allies say San Francisco schools aren't being built up, but rather broken down by "financial mismanagement."

But during a presentation Tuesday night the district revealed that they have lost 4,000 students since 2012 and expect to lose another 4,600 in the next nine years.

"Enrollment has declined and will continue to decline," said a staff member with the district.

She went on to say that they are also struggling to staff schools that aren't full and had a 21% staffing shortage as of mid-August.

The plan is to form a district advisory committee to address those issues in the months ahead. Parents we talked with said that sounds like a recipe to close schools and they believe certain communities will suffer.

"When school closures happen in major cities they always target our black and brown students and those are where our students need more investing," said Allyson Eddy Bravmann who is a parent with the San Francisco Education Alliance.

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"If schools close, who loses out?" ABC7 News reporter J.R. Stone asked.

"Black and brown children. Black and brown children in Bayview, Hunters Point," said Virginia Marshall who is a retired teacher and education chair of the SF NAACP.

SFUSD uses a choice-based system where families can apply to schools outside of the neighborhood they live in. The dark areas of one map show where a high percentage of students live, including the southeastern section of the city. The dark section of another map shows where they go to school, largely in the west and central sections of San Francisco.

"The schools serving low-income kids, more black and brown communities are getting fewer requests then their enrollment goes down, then they lose staff, then they can't make their programs," said SFUSD Commissioner Matt Alexander.

"It's worth noting the school district has a policy to move towards a zone system for elementary schools which has basically been pushed to the back burner," said SFUSD Commissioner Mark Sanchez.

Multiple commissioners discussed the idea of going back to the zone system to better identify where changes should be made.

As of right now though, one of many ideas being talked about.

The plan is to put this district advisory committee together in the next month. The school board won't actually vote on any sort of plan until April of next year, so lots of work to be done going forward. The district either needs to bring in more money, reorganize what they get, or cut money.

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