San Francisco Lawmakers Want Money Withheld From Their Own School District

A group of San Francisco lawmakers has asked State Controller Betty Yee to withhold $12 million in reopening funds from their city’s own school district. The move follows what many perceive as a cynical attempt by San Francisco Unified to qualify for a reopening grant while offering very little to its students.

To qualify for reopening grants, schools needed to bring at least one high school grade back to campus by May 15. Earlier this month, SFUSD announced that high school seniors would get to return just before that deadline on May 14, but for a hybrid in-person learning schedule. The eleventh hour, staggered plan meant not all seniors would return on the 15th. Some would only spend a total of three days on campus before graduating.

“We plainly see that the SFUSD [reopening] plan, which only offers a select few high school seniors to return before May 15th, is a poor attempt to exploit a perceived legal loophole,” wrote Assembly Members Philip Ting, David Chiu, and Senator Scott Wiener in their May 24 letter. “Additionally, the intent of AB 86 was that a reopening plan would be proposed and fully implemented before May 15, 2021.

“We call on you, the school fiscal agents for the state, to ensure this perceived loophole is not allowed.

To be clear the intent of the Legislature, in passing AB 86, was that schools would ‘offer in person instruction to the greatest extent possible,’ and once open, provide instruction in a continuous manner through the end of the instructional calendar.”

Despite having some of the lowest coronavirus transmission rates in the nation, SFUSD has been among the slowest and most reluctant to reopen. The district’s foot-dragging prompted a lawsuit by the city in February.