By Dr. Matt Wayne
Here in the San Francisco Unified School District, we’re already hard at work planning for our budget for the 2023-24 school year. With our budget development, we are prioritizing stability, transparency, and aligning to our vision, values, goals, and guardrails. The most relevant guardrails related to budget development include Effective Decision-Making and Resource Allocation. This means that major decisions by the Superintendent will include meaningful consultation with parents/guardians, staff, and students who will be majorly impacted by those decisions. In addition, the Superintendent will not allow resources to be allocated without transparently communicating how the allocations are baseline sufficient to operate all schools while addressing inequitable inputs and creating more equity and excellence in student outcomes.
Today I’d like to explain more about how our budget works and the tools we use to help inform our decisions.
Every year, SFUSD receives money from the federal, state and local government. Some of the funds are earmarked for specific purposes, such as building maintenance or professional training for teachers, and other funds can be applied to any educational purpose such as teacher salaries and benefits.
Most SFUSD funding comes from the state of California and pays for those who work in schools. Operating schools for thousands of students each day is a team effort and involves principals, teachers, paraeducators, cafeteria workers, custodians, buildings and grounds staff, counselors, social workers, nurses, not to mention administrators and those who focus on creating curriculum and overseeing operations of a district and county office of education.
Unrestricted General Fund money applies to day-to-day operations of schools and is not designated for specific purposes - most of this funding goes towards teacher and school site staff pay. Central administration costs amount to around 4 percent of the SFUSD’s unrestricted budget, which falls within the average for school districts in California.
The Restricted General Fund contains state block grants, funding from local measures, and other short-term funding for specific purposes.
Every school in SFUSD gets basic funding and staff. Schools and students facing systemic issues get additional funding and staff using the Weighted Student Formula (WSF) and Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).
Weighted Student Formula factors in enrollment, student characteristics, and school trend data (i.e. foster youth, socio-economically disadvantaged students, etc.) Multi-Tiered System of Supports factors in student and staff inputs to assign schools a Tier. Based on this Tier, schools receive additional academic and social-emotional staffing supports.
SFUSD’s expenses are increasing at a fast pace due to pension contribution costs and teacher and staff salary increases while state revenues are slowing, leading to a budget deficit. One-time funds offer short-term stability for students, staff, and school sites. By 2024-25, reserves will be depleted and budget balancing measures will be necessary. Over the past year and a half, we’ve taken a lot of serious action and have spent a lot of time making progress towards stabilizing our budget, reducing deficit spending, making sure that we have strong monitoring practices in place - our business practices are strong. And this is an ongoing process, especially as the landscape shifts as we have stimulus funds expiring and we have new block grants coming in. We have to continue to manage our budget responsibly.
Schools and school community members are invited to be part of the budget process. Learn how you can participate.
The 2023-24 budget will be discussed and adopted at an SF Board of Education meeting in June. For more information about the SFUSD budget, go to www.sfusd.edu/about/budget-and-lcap.
This page was last updated on May 1, 2023