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London Breed seeks ‘reset’ over school board goals with ballot measure

Mayor London Breed wants to “reset” and refocus the San Francisco Board of Education’s goals and priorities in a proposed ballot measure called “Children First” that could see the school district possibly losing millions in city funding if goals set out in the measure are not met.

The mayor said she plans to introduce a ballot measure Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting, that would require the Board of Education to meet specific criteria and change the way it governs in order to continue receiving funding from The City annually.

Breed outlined some of the criteria members on the board would need to meet under the proposed ballot measure, including “undergoing training to improve their effectiveness,” conducting “extensive engagement” with parents and guardians of school district students, allowing the superintendent to manage staff, approving its annual budget and ensuring the budget aligns with the district’s goals.

The school board has a decision to make Tuesday over a $125 million budget deficit as the district faces a possible state takeover due to its financial situation. The district has until Wednesday to submit to the state its plans to balance its budget.

Not only is the district facing a budget deficit, three school board members are facing a recall election in February.

The mayor said the school board has focused on the wrong issues during the pandemic including the renaming of public schools and choosing political fights over discussing how to close the school district’s budget deficit:

This is about good government and accountability. It’s about ensuring that the city dollars are being spent wisely.”

Another part of the ballot initiative includes coordinating children services and related city agencies under one roof. The measure would create the Children’s Agency that would make it less confusing for parents to find services and resources for their kids. Breed said:

Currently, there are more than 10 agencies that make decisions for our kids. It is so frustrating and confusing for parents and for kids who have parents who may not even speak English.”

The mayor anticipates to submit the measure for the June 2022 ballot. It will require a majority of supervisors to vote on placing the measure on the ballot in front of voters. The measure already has support from supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Myrna Melgar, the mayor said.

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