Resource Alignment Initiative Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Resource Alignment Plan Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is there an initial list of schools being considered for closure?

No. Creating a list of schools being considered for closure, merger, or co-location without meaningfully engaging with the community and ensuring that no community is disproportionately affected would violate our district’s first guardrail. The Resource Alignment Initiative will ensure an inclusive process and an equitable outcome. 

When will there be a list of schools being considered for closure, merger, or co-location?

We anticipate the superintendent making recommendations to the Board of Education for which schools to close, merge, or co-locate in September or October of 2024 after multiple cycles of community engagement and external equity checks. You can see our full timeline here.

When will closures, mergers, and co-locations happen?

If the Board of Education approves a resolution to close, merge, and co-locate schools in December 2024, the new school portfolio would begin in August 2025. In the time between the Board of Education’s vote and the first day of school in August 2025, the District will implement a comprehensive transition plan for families and staff.

Is the Resource Alignment Initiative all about school closures?

No. The Resource Alignment Initiative (RAI) is a multifaceted plan to align SFUSD’s resources to its goals. It began in August 2023 with an honest discussion between SFUSD staff and the Board of Education about the current state of SFUSD’s schools and what steps we need to take to make them a better place for students.

The RAI has five components: Creating a new school staffing model, reorganizing the central office, exploring generating revenue from properties, investing in priority district-wide programs, and creating a new school portfolio. You can stay up to date on the Resource Alignment Initiative by visiting the RAI website, which will be updated regularly.

How many schools may close?

We are beginning the process of engaging the community to create criteria that will guide the District’s recommendations. We have not made any decisions or recommendations on the number of schools to merge, co-locate, or close. We will only make recommendations if a change is necessary to create fully staffed schools with robust programming and educator support, based on the data and our best judgment, which has been informed by community feedback. 

Why is creating a new system of schools needed?

The reality is that while our circumstances have been changing for years, our district has not. In the past, we have resisted closing schools as our enrollment declined. As a result, our schools have gotten emptier. At this time, our resources are spread too thin, creating inequities experienced by our students and their families. 

Specific issues driving the need for change include:

  • Enrollment has declined and will continue to decline. SFUSD’s enrollment has decreased by over 4,000 students since school year 2012-13. Demographic trends such as declining birth rates indicate that SFUSD will lose 4,600 additional students by 2032.
  • We’ve had persistent problems staffing classrooms and filling vacant positions. For example:
    • 21% of vacant classroom teacher positions were not yet filled on August 12, 2023–just before the school year started. 
    • 15% of classrooms were staffed by substitute teachers or teachers on special assignment in 2022-23 and 2023-24. 
    • 25% staffing deficit in Custodial Services for the past year. 
    • 25% vacant positions in Student Nutrition Services over the past year. 
    • 50% vacant positions in heating and ventilation shop
  • Many of our facilities are in poor condition. SFUSD’s consistent capital investment has made a big difference in the condition of our schools. However, there are a large number of buildings that remain in “poor” condition. SFUSD would need at least $6 billion to upgrade all school sites.
  • Under-enrollment is distributed across all of our schools. Under-enrollment is not concentrated in specific schools; rather, it is spread across all schools. Exclusively addressing the most severe outliers will do little to mitigate the underutilized campuses across the whole system.

By having fewer schools, we can concentrate our resources on enhancing educational programs, teacher support, and student services. This strategic shift aims to give every student the tools they need to succeed in college and careers. 

In large urban districts across the nation, school district leaders face the same challenge as SFUSD of creating a new school site portfolio to align resources. 

How is the RAI centering equity in this process?

We are intentionally planning for equity throughout the entire initiative. For example:

  • We have created a compendium of facts for all of our schools so we can work with the most accurate and objective information.
  • We will follow SFUSD’s Guardrail 1 around effective decision-making that ensures there’s meaningful consultation from the people who will be affected by major decisions.
  • Stanford University researchers will conduct a third-party equity audit to ensure that no community or student group is disproportionately affected by resource alignment decisions. 
  • School districts must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as part of the process to inform decisions on school closures, co-locations, and mergers.
  • We will follow the California Attorney General’s guidance on school closures to ensure equitable access to education and prevent systemic discrimination in schools.

These different equity checks will inform Superintendent Wayne's recommendations to the Board of Education. 

What’s the difference between a merger, co-location, and closure?

There are subtle differences between a school closure, merger, and co-location, though they can seem similar. Here’s how they differ:

  • School Closure: A school closure happens when a school permanently stops operating. When a school closes, students will attend a new school.
  • School Merger: A school merger occurs when two or more schools join together to become one single school. This is often done to combine resources, improve educational programs, or address issues like decreasing student numbers. After merging, the original schools stop existing as separate entities and operate under one name and administration.
  • School Co-location: School co-location is when multiple schools share the same building or campus but keep their separate identities, students, and staff. These schools might share common areas like libraries, gyms, and cafeterias, but they run their own programs and activities. Co-location is a way to use space efficiently, especially in crowded areas where building new schools might not be possible.

What are the benefits of a new school portfolio?

While creating a new portfolio of schools has the potential to save the district money, our ultimate goal is to elevate the standard of education in our community. This is about living up to our promise of an equitable and excellent education. Creating a new school portfolio, if done thoughtfully, can be an opportunity to build higher-quality schools. When the number of buildings and each building’s capacity is better matched to the proper student enrollment, schools can be more equitably and robustly resourced. 

Some of the advantages could include: 

  • Campuses may have greater access to extraordinary academics, special education services, fine arts, and athletics, among other essential services such as social-emotional learning and mental health support. 
  • Teachers may no longer be at a campus where they are the only one teaching a certain grade level or subject, and now with peer educators, be able to collaborate on curriculum and feel more supported – further enhancing a child’s education and a teacher’s experience. 
  • Students also may experience a broader range of student peer interactions, and now with more educator and staff support, receive more enrichment or intervention services based on their individual needs. 

All of these advantages are factors that could lead to more thriving students and staff, and, therefore, more thriving schools.

What is your commitment to families and staff?

If the new portfolio of schools is approved by the Board of Education in late 2024, we will stand by our staff and families throughout this process. Throughout the spring and summer of 2025, all families and staff will be fully supported with their enrollment and career options in the District.

Do closures have negative impacts on communities?

We understand that previous school closures in San Francisco and in other school districts have had negative impacts. We also believe that creating a new school portfolio, if done thoughtfully, can be an opportunity to build higher-quality schools. We will minimize negative impacts by transparently engaging with the community, conducting an equity audit, adhering to SFUSD’s Guardrail One, and performing the CEQA analysis. We will honor the history and traditions of school communities, and we will engage the community in how to repurpose any closed schools for the benefit of the community. 

If schools are closed, what are the plans for repurposing the facilities?

We have some high-level ideas of how we will use buildings and spaces to benefit our communities so that these facilities continue to contribute to a thriving community. However, we also believe that communities should have a say in what happens to a school site if the Board recommends a closure. We will deeply engage the community to learn their vision for the best future use of a school property.

Some potential uses can include:

  • Working with developers to create low-cost housing for our staff, so they can live and work in our communities.
  • Working with nonprofits to use buildings for fine arts centers or to provide mental health services to our families.
  • Turning the area into a beautiful green space for community use, allowing nature to add peace and beauty to our neighborhoods.

However, because we do not have a preliminary list of recommended schools to merge, co-locate, or close, and we won’t until September or October 2024, it is premature at this time to present plans for specific schools. That process will happen after the Board votes on the Superintendent’s recommendations in late 2024.

If my child’s school is closed, where will my child go? Where will my child’s teachers go?

We are committed to our students and staff. If recommendations to merge, co-locate, or close schools are approved by the Board in late 2024, we will support our affected students, families, and staff through the transition. Our goal is to provide a welcoming school environment for our students and support our staff. 

What is the status of RAI focus area #1: Create a New School Staffing Model?

What it is: The School Staffing Model is a detailed set of guidelines that SFUSD will use to determine how staff is allocated to schools each year. These allocations serve as a starting point for school leaders as they develop their school plans. 

Through the Staffing Model, SFUSD is targeting our investments in high-quality instruction and a community schools approach. This looks like providing resources for coaching, instructional leadership teams, coordinated care teams, and other student supports. Additionally, our staffing plan reflects our commitment to improving the outcomes for our students who have been historically underserved. We will continue to provide increased resources to our students with the greatest need. 

Why it is part of the RAI: The School Staffing Model represents a new way of doing business in SFUSD. It establishes a clear set of school structures so that school communities will experience consistency, predictability, and transparency with respect to their staffing.

Previously we did not have a comprehensive method for allocating staff to schools. Schools received a budget and guidance that was not consistent across all sites. Most importantly, while the previous system was designed with equity in mind, it did not produce equitable outcomes. Click here to view a table explaining the specific changes and rationale.

What we have done so far: From August 2023 through January 2024, SFUSD:

  • Developed School Staffing Plan guidelines with input from staff and the community. 
  • Estimated the level of funding available for the staffing plan based on revenue projections for the following school year.
  • Shared previews of staffing and funding allocations with site leaders to support preparation for school planning.

What’s next: Adopting the Staffing Model is a big shift for SFUSD. As we implement the model, we will assess whether it improves student outcomes, especially for our focal students.

Specifically, from February through May 2024:

  • SFUSD will allocate staff and funding to schools based on the School Staffing Plan guidelines.
  • Schools will develop their Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) and budget based on allocated staff as well as additional resources.
  • The district will follow the required steps to adjust overall district staffing based on the School Staffing Plan. 

 

What is the status of RAI focus area #2: Reorganize the Central Office?

What it is: The Central Office Reorganization will invest in key staff and structures to help us meet our goals and guardrails while honoring the need to reduce the central office's size, increase efficiency, and ensure accountability. 

Why it is part of the RAI: All SFUSD departments are aligning to the Vision, Values, Goals, and Guardrails, and the central office is no different. Previously, some central office departments were siloed with duplicated roles and responsibilities across multiple divisions rather than consolidated and streamlined. 

What we have done so far: We will reduce each central office department’s personnel spending by 10% for school year 2024-25, with some departments reducing personnel by 20%. In the next two months, we will make reductions to non-personnel central office expenditures. 

What’s next: On March 18th, 2024, the District Advisory Committee (DAC) will discuss SFUSD’s central office reorganization plans. Once the reorganization plan is finalized, we will clearly communicate what services will be reduced or abandoned.

What is the status of RAI focus area #3: Explore Generating Revenue from Properties?

What it is: This focus area aims to leverage the district’s property to generate more value for district students.

Why it is part of the RAI: Leveraging the District’s properties represents a tremendous opportunity to advance multiple goals simultaneously:

  • Support student outcomes: Housing can attract and retain high-quality teachers that will help the District meet its student outcome goals
  • Generate financial return: Housing can create an ongoing, sustainable revenue stream that will benefit the District’s overall financial health
  • Build community: The District’s investment in housing will direct more resources into San Francisco neighborhoods, benefitting teachers, local businesses, and the surrounding community

What we have done so far: The District Advisory Committee discussed SFUSD’s proposals on January 8, 2024 (see here for the slide deck). Those proposals included: 

  • Lease property rather than sell property to create an ongoing revenue source and to create a variety of housing opportunities for staff over an expedited time frame.
  • Prioritize educator housing for developing leased property (per Board of Education resolution)
  • Identify developers through a Request for Proposal (vs. a Request for Bid) so SFUSD can create more criteria for property revenue rather than having to go with the best financial benefit; this requires requesting a waiver from the State Board of Education 
  • Take a portfolio approach to pursue housing opportunities sequentially in groups
  • Consider specific factors when selecting sites for grouping and development

What’s next: The District has assembled a working group composed of 15 community members with experience in real estate development, affordable housing, creative financing tools, and housing policy as well as SFUSD labor partners. The purpose of the working group is to provide technical assistance and support. Recommendations of the group will inform the District’s next steps.

What is the status of RAI focus area #4: Invest in Districtwide Programs That Have Demonstrated Success?

What it is: In addition to the core academic program, SFUSD provides access to supplementary programs during school and after school. This focus area will invest in programs that help SFUSD students attain the qualities named in the Graduate Profile. To do this, we will evaluate our current programs’ alignment to the Graduate Profile, then revamp our program offerings so that SFUSD students attain the Graduate Profile’s skills, dispositions, and behaviors. 

Why it is part of the RAI: Compared to other California school districts, SFUSD has a wealth of resources. Over the years, this led to the implementation of a large catalog of programs. However, some of these programs have not yielded the desired outcomes for students’ success. Our goal as a district is to provide sustainable and high-quality programs aligned to the district’s goals and Graduate Profile.

What we have done so far: SFUSD is currently identifying which programs to assess as part of this focus area.

What’s next: SFUSD is planning to present initial proposals on elementary school programs to the District Advisory Committee on April 22, 2024.

What is the status of RAI focus area #5: Create a new portfolio of schools?

What it is: 

In order to concentrate and more equitably distribute resources to support strong and supportive learning environments across the school district, SFUSD is initiating a process to recommend changes to its school portfolio. These recommendations will include the potential for school mergers, co-locations, and closures. 

Why it is part of the Resource Alignment Initiative: 

Making changes to SFUSD's portfolio of schools is part of the Resource Alignment Initiative because our resources are simply stretched too thin across too many school sites. This resource misalignment has led to inequities affecting our students' educational experiences and outcomes. 

SFUSD's enrollment has declined by 4,000 students in the school district since the 2012-2013 school year and will decline by an additional 4,600 students by 2032. This under-enrollment and projected continued under-enrollment is spread across all of our schools, along with a mismatch between where students live and the capacity at the school sites in those neighborhoods. 

In order to have the type of schools our students deserve and the ones that our families expect, we must have fewer schools in our portfolio than we do now.

What we have done so far: 

SFUSD has met with the District Advisory Committee to discuss the District’s portfolio of schools and continues to do so. We are developing an initial draft list of criteria to assess potential school mergers, co-locations, and closures that will be closely reviewed with the community from late March to early April. We are eager for feedback from the entire SFUSD community and encourage you to visit our “How can I get involved?” page. 

What’s next: 

In late April to early May, we will return to the community for input on the revised criteria draft. Following this second cycle of community input, we will present the draft criteria to the District Advisory Committee in late May and the Board of Education in June.

What demographic trends are contributing to SFUSD’s enrollment decline?

SFUSD’s enrollment has decreased by over 4,000 students since school year 2012-13. Demographic trends such as declining birth rates indicate that SFUSD will lose 4,600 additional students by 2032. 

To forecast the District’s enrollment, SFUSD contracted with FLO Analytics, a professional demographic research firm. The demographer’s report includes detailed analyses of population and housing trends, enrollment trends, SFUSD student characteristics, housing development and student yields, and enrollment forecasts. See here for the report. SFUSD Enrollment Forecasts 2023-24 to 2032-33

SFUSD summarized the report in slides 107 to 114 here. These slides were shared with the District Advisory Committee on January 8. 2024. 

What is the relationship between the new school staffing model (focus area 1) and the new portfolio of schools (focus area 5)?

Although they seem closely tied together, these two focus areas function independently. The staffing model determines the levels of staffing and resources schools receive based on a formula applied fairly and consistently to all schools. The staffing model will be applied to schools regardless of the number of schools we have or what their student enrollments are. Adjustments to a new school portfolio will be determined by consolidation criteria and a comprehensive process that prioritizes community engagement and equity.

Could standalone early education sites and county schools be affected by consolidation?

Standalone Early Education Sites and County Schools are funded and governed by a different set of laws than SFUSD district schools, so they are exempt from consolidation.

Is the timeline present for all focus areas?

No. The timeline and milestones presented are specifically for the process of creating a new portfolio of schools (focus area 5). Focus areas 1-4 are at varying levels of implementation. Check back to the website for updates.

What happens with the input gathered through the surveys and community sessions?

During the Resource Alignment process, we will send out two public online surveys. Input from the first survey will inform which consolidation criteria will be used to make school co-location, merger, and closure decisions. The results of the second survey will inform which metrics will measure the criteria and how to weigh the importance of the criteria. Key themes from the input gathered at community sessions will also inform the decision-making process. Ultimately, district leadership will use this input, input from the District Advisory Committee, and multiple equity checks to make recommendations to the Board of Education for school co-locations, mergers, and closures. 

This page was last updated on April 16, 2024