Mayor Breed doubles down on desire to direct entirety of funds to the homeless

In an effort to staunch the exodus of teachers from the city, unionized San Francisco public school educators upped their efforts this week to get a piece of the city’s $185 million education-fund windfall — money the mayor has stated should go exclusively to the homeless.

Nevertheless, the teachers pressed on, even shutting down Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting while demonstratively making their case.

Public education advocates rally outside of San Francisco’s City Hall. Photo by Jennifer Cortez

That case: They’re demanding that Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors direct funding to public education while the city awaits a court decision on the legality Proposition G of June 2018. That ballot measure — approved by 61 percent of the city’s voters — promised to increase teachers’ salary by seven percent by levying an annual parcel tax of $298 on property owners.

The parcel tax measure was expected to generate $50 million annually, and it was viewed as the funding vehicle for retaining quality educators in the community.

Susan Solomon, president of the United Educators of San Francisco, said the city now has a windfall of $400 million from property taxes and $185 million from undesignated revenue from the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund.

Breed, however, repeated Wednesday that the latter will be used for the homeless and housing.

“I know there are other budget priorities and they are important,” Breed said in her State of the City address. “Let’s be clear: Every dollar we take away from what I propose is one fewer bed, one lost home, one more person on the street.”

Roy King, a math teacher at Raoul Wallenberg High, and his son, Desmond, a first grader at Harvey Milk Elementary. Photo by Jennifer Cortez

While they wait to see what happens with Prop. G, the union is asking for $60 million to protect programs and community schools with historically underserved students, to provide instructional technology resources for students, and to supplement teachers’ salaries until there is a resolution to the lawsuit.

That $60 million “would take us through the 2020-2021 school year,” said Solomon.

“Breed support for schools.” Photo by Jennifer Cortez

“We have had record teacher vacancies at the beginning of every school year,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, attributing this issue to low salaries and unaffordable housing. She added that she is committed to securing the raise teachers deserve and earned.

“There’s a saying,” said Stevon Cook, the president of the Board of Education. “‘Show me your budget and I’ll show you what you care about.’”

Not all of the supervisors agree with the mayor’s plans for the $185 million.

“I want to be very clear that I am angry that we are pitting our schools and our teachers and families against homelessness resources,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who was formerly a member of the board of education.

“These things are not disconnected. When we support our schools, when we support our teachers, when we support our families, we are also supporting our homeless children and families as well,” he said. “These things are connected.”