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San Francisco Unified working to identify which schools to close amid budget deficit

San Francisco Unified looking to close down some of its schools
San Francisco Unified looking to close down some of its schools 03:11

Facing a large budget deficit and declining enrollment, San Francisco Unified School District is proposing to close down some schools.

The district is avoiding the world closure. Instead, they're calling it "resource alignment" and painting the narrative that fewer schools will benefit the students.

San Francisco parent Meredith Dodson said she had a lot of questions about the closure plan. She has two kids in a San Francisco public elementary school.

"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.

Dodson said San Francisco Unified has faced many challenges in recent years. That was partly why she and other families founded the San Francisco Parent Coalition right after the pandemic to give parents a bigger voice. Then came this latest proposal to shut down schools.

"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."

The district announced late last year it was facing a $421 million budget deficit. The district said it's lost nearly 10,000 students in recent years. Some families have gone to private schools and many have moved out of the city due to the high cost of living.

The district calls the closure proposal the "Resource Alignment Initiative." The district declined CBS Bay Area's request for an interview on Saturday. They provided a nearly four-minute video statement that was produced for the public.

"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.

Superintendent Wayne said they didn't know how many and which schools would close. That information will 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.

SFUSD has roughly 49,000 students with 112 schools, according to the district website.

As the district works to identify which schools to close, Dodson and other parents are demanding transparency and making sure the plan will truly help students thrive.

"(It's important they're) hearing parent questions, hearing parent concerns, and making sure the district is responsive to that," said Dodson. 

On the district's website, it said the superintendent plans to announce the affected schools in September or October so the school board can vote on it in December. If the board approves the list of schools, those schools would close in the Fall of 2025.

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

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