Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Actual facts about the SFUSD budget

Photo from Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0
President Trump has said, "Schools are flush with cash." We know that is not true in California where schools still rank at the bottom nationally in per pupil funding (42nd to be exact). Revenue growth is slowing and mandatory expenditures, like retirement contributions, are growing. Test your knowledge here:

Actual facts about the SFUSD Budget 


  1. Does the state factor in local cost of living in its allocations to school districts?
  2. By what percentage has the average teacher’s salary grown over the past three years?
  3. Does California law require school districts to hold money in reserve?


Answer key 


  1. No.

    Even though San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in California and the whole U.S., local cost of living is not a factor in state or federal funding formulas. LCFF provides a per student base amount that factors in cost of living adjustments at a state level. We then receive two Grade Span Adjustments: (1) Grades K-­3 for smaller average class enrollment and (2) Grades 9­-12 for costs of Career Technical Education coursework. We also receive Supplemental and Concentration Grants for our percentage of students who are English Learners, free and reduced ­price meal program eligible, or foster youth.

  2. By the end of this school year, the average teacher’s salary will have grown by 15% since 2014. After the latest raise implemented in early 2017, the average salary for teachers is $68,130 for 184 work days. This does not include benefits.
  3. Yes.

    SFUSD holds money in reserve as required by law and to even out cash flows. California law requires that every school district of our size holds at least 2% of its overall general fund budget in an unrestricted reserve, aka the Designated Fund Balance (amount varies by district size). SFUSD also holds some additional money in reserve, aka the Undesignated Fund Balance, to help even out cash flows from year to year. This helps to stabilize the district’s budget and support more predictability and better planning. The Designated Fund Balance typically increases or decreases slightly each year to mirror the overall budget. In recent years, SFUSD also increased the Undesignated Fund Balance, given projections that our overall expenses would exceed our overall revenues (primarily due to negotiated salary increases). Now, the district is drawing down on its reserves.

Sanctuary schools

Photo of City Hall from GPSCC BY-SA 2.0
Given President Trump's executive orders related to immigrants and refugees, SFUSD has sought to clarify for families that Mr. Trump’s orders do not have any effect on how we respond to our students’ rights in San Francisco public schools.

We do not ask for students' immigration status when they enroll, and there are existing laws that help keep your children safe while at school regardless of their immigration status. Furthermore, SFUSD staff will not cooperate with any official seeking information about your children absent a court order.

Some have asked if there is a risk of SFUSD losing federal dollars given San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy. At this time, we cannot predict whether or not federal dollars may be withheld as a result of San Francisco and SFUSD sanctuary practices, and SFUSD will pursue legal and political defenses against such proposals or actions. Almost all federal revenue received by the district is tied to specific programs, most notably free and reduced meals programs, preschool, and educational services for students with special needs and schools with high concentrations of low-income students.

SFUSD resources

Resources from community organizations


Please note that this post is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an immigration lawyer.