Monday, October 24, 2011

(San Francisco) Schools leave real estate funds untapped

Proposition A on this November’s ballot would authorize the issuance of $531 million dollars in general obligation bonds for the San Francisco Unified School District. General obligation means they are repaid with San Francisco property taxes.

Is it just me, or have we been here before? In 2003, 2006 and again in 2008, massive revenue measures have been passed by voters for the purposes of funding and fixing our schools. This is in addition to the millions in rainy-day funds that are given to the district each year because of sudden budget problems. I say, “given” because the school system is a state entity. We can’t really tell it what to do with the money it receives, though state law requires certain oversight for bond money.

In 2009, The City’s civil grand jury issued a report called, “Use it or Lose it: A Report on the Surplus Real Property Owned by the San Francisco Unified School District.” It seems that dwindling numbers of students since 1978 has resulted in shuttered schools that are still owned by the district. At least 10 parcels have been designated “surplus” by an advisory committee set up by the school district to study the problem from 2006-07.

According to representatives of the school district, selling the property is complicated, and in some cases, state law restricts the use of money from the sale of real property.

The grand jury report concluded that, “The city and county of San Francisco should not allocate to the SFUSD any further ‘rainy day’ or ‘bail out’ funds until such time as the SFUSD has sold the properties it already identified as surplus.”

Believing that this conclusion was a bit harsh, in November 2009 the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking that the school district “bring its surplus property disposition plan(s) before the Joint City and School District Select Committee in a timely manner for review and consideration.”

No such plans have ever been presented to that committee.

The grand jury report does not estimate how much money could be made from the sale or lease of surplus school property, so I’m not necessarily suggesting that people vote against Prop. A. I’m merely suggesting that, as the grand jury report stated, “the SFUSD is poised to waste the extraordinary amount of time and money that has already gone into determining how to dispose of or manage some of its real property. The SFUSD should take the remaining critical steps.”

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

1 comment:

Vaporizer said...

In meeting this month, the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Unified School District have discussed how to create a program in which the law provides for districts.