What does the Board of Education do, exactly?

In our local elections this fall, you may have noticed a long list of familiar -- and not so familiar -- names of people running for the San Francisco Board of Education. We hope you were able to take part in the election, because choosing these board members makes a difference in your child’s education.

What they do

First, the basics: the Board of Education determines policy for all PreK/TK-12 public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District, which serves the City and County of San Francisco. We have seven Board commissioners, who are elected by San Francisco voters and serve four-year terms. To run for the office a candidate must be a resident, and registered to vote, in San Francisco. Elected commissioners are not full-time employees of the school district, but are paid a stipend of $6,000 per year.

The Board can establish graduation requirements and course offerings above and beyond those required by the state. For example, the Board recently passed a resolution for all high schools to provide ethnic studies classes. It also approves equipment purchases, supplies, services, leases, renovations, construction, and labor union contracts. In addition to those responsibilities, the Board confirms appointments of SFUSD’s senior staff, including the superintendent.

Nothing can happen without resources so, perhaps most significantly, the Board approves SFUSD’s annual budget, which is independent of the city's budget and comes with hefty state and federal requirements. It is due to the state at the end of June every year. In addition to the annual budget, the Board also approves SFUSD’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which is a plan that details how SFUSD supports high-needs students and is created with input from staff, student and family advisory groups, and community organizations.

Ground-breaking policies

You have probably have heard a little about our PreK-12 Computer Science curriculum, our University of California approved graduation requirements, and the healthy food in our cafeterias. These are just a few examples of progress SFUSD has made in recent years under the direction of the Board of Education.

Want a deeper dive into Board decisions? Take a look at the online archive.

Hiring a new superintendent

The Board of Education is in charge of setting policies and approving spending, but for leading strategic implementation of the District's vision and the day-to-day operations, the Board appoints a superintendent of schools. This past fall, when Superintendent Richard Carranza was chosen to lead Houston’s public schools, hiring a new superintendent for SFUSD was placed high on the Board’s to-do list.

Since then, the Board has been following a selection process and plan to hire a superintendent in a timely manner. Meanwhile, Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh was asked to fill the role.

How you can stay informed - and inform us

Our Board of Education meets regularly throughout the year, with a few exceptions for holidays and other breaks. These meetings are often filled with reports from various school district departments and committees. For example, Pupil Services makes routine presentations to the Board on SFUSD’s truancy and graduation rates, along with other vital student statistics, while Facilities will update commissioners on school renovations.

Unless marked otherwise, all Board meetings are open to the public, and all have a time set aside for anyone to make comments to the Board regarding SFUSD issues.  If you’d like to make a comment, you do not have to be on the agenda, and you have two minutes to speak directly to commissioners. However, due to state law, the Board cannot converse with you directly during your presentation. To sign up, there are cards in the Boardroom lobby you can fill out prior to each meeting.

Can’t make it in person? The meetings are broadcast live and archived online.

Who’s new? 

Below are links to information and news about our new and returning commissioners, as well as a look at those who are moving on this year.