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San Francisco School District faces tough choices amid budget shortfall and declining enrollment

San Francisco, California – San Francisco’s school district is facing tough times with not enough money and fewer kids going to school. They’re thinking about shutting some schools down, but they’re not using the word “shut down.” They’re calling it “resource alignment,” saying it’s a way to make things better for students. Meredith Dodson, a parent with two kids in a public elementary school in San Francisco, is worried and has a lot of questions about this idea of closing schools.

“It’s concerning; it’s emotional. Of course, you don’t want your own school to close. You don’t want it to impact kids who are already being under served by the district,” said Dodson.

San Francisco is facing problem for some period now

She mentioned that the school district in San Francisco has been dealing with problems for a while. This led her and some other parents to start the San Francisco Parent Coalition after the pandemic, aiming to have more say in things. Then, this new idea of closing some schools came up.

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“Maybe not surprising, but still upsetting,” said Dodson. “That doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow just because we knew this might happen at some point.”

Last year, the district said it was short by $421 million. They also said that almost 10,000 students have left the district. Some went to private schools, and others moved away because San Francisco is so expensive. The district is calling their plan to possibly close schools the “Resource Alignment Initiative.” They didn’t respond to CBS Bay Area about their request on Saturday but shared a video statement that’s almost four minutes long.

“We must have fewer schools than we do now. We realize this is difficult to hear. No one wants to think about their school or any school closing its doors, us included. But by having fewer schools, we can concentrate our resources and enhance programs, teacher support and student services,” SFUSD Superintendent Matt Wayne said in the video.

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The decision in which school should be closed yet to be made

Superintendent Wayne also said they’re still figuring out how many and which schools might be closed, with details to come later.

“Our plan includes multiple phases of community engagement to ensure your voice is heard. We’ve also included external equity checks to ensure no community or student group is disproportionately affected,” said Superintendent Wayne.

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has around 49,000 students and operates 112 schools, as stated on their official website.

As the district figures out which schools might need to close, Dodson and other parents are asking for clear information and reassurances that these changes will be good for the students’ success.

Dodson emphasizes the importance of the district listening to parents’ questions and worries and responding to them.

According to information on the district’s website, the superintendent is planning to name the schools that might close by September or October. Then, in December, the school board will decide if they agree with this list. If they do, those schools will close in the Fall of 2025.

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The district provided a link on their site to answer questions on the school closure topic.

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