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SFNext: San Francisco teacher's odyssey getting to and from work a non-stop challenge

SFNext: S.F. teacher's long-distance commute a non-stop challenge
SFNext: S.F. teacher's long-distance commute a non-stop challenge 02:22

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before the break of dawn, a routine kicks off in Concord. Lisa Gaglioti grabs her lunch, stashes it into her bag packed with work, and says goodbye to her cat.

Within seconds she's out the door, into the dark, and on her way. Gaglioti is in a hurry. She doesn't want to miss the train. 

"I got to catch BART to make it to San Francisco to go to work," she said.

Gaglioti works as a special education teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in the city's Excelsior District. The public school is about 30 miles away. Her commute is roughly an hour and a half if she's lucky and doesn't miss her connection. 

Fifteen BART stops and a packed bus ride later, she finally arrives at her destination and is finally ready to start her day. 

Gaglioti heads up some stairs, down the hall, and out onto the playground where her students are waiting. They are thrilled to see her, and vice versa. On a typical day, she assembles them into a straight line, then they walk back into the building and upstairs to her classroom. 

On this day, the youngest child grabbed Gaglioti's hand and they walked together up a few flights of stairs, with the young student telling her about his morning. She works with 13 special-needs children ranging from kindergartners to 5th graders. They have a wide range of challenges, and Gaglioti prepares lessons that are appropriate for each child. The atmosphere in the classroom is warm and caring.

The salaried teacher tried her best to get some prep work done on public transit, but the trains and buses filled up quickly and it was soon impossible to work. 

Gaglioti works long hours and often leaves school as late as 7 p.m. to return home. She would love to live in San Francisco, but it's just not financially possible.

"I just can't afford it," said Gaglioti. "There's no way I can afford it on my teacher's salary."

While San Francisco officials just broke ground for an affordable housing project for teachers, Gaglioti told KPIX 5 that doesn't help her students. She recounted how their families can no longer afford to live here, either.  

"Our enrollment has gone way down because our families - our Black and Brown families - can't afford to live in the city anymore. So, they're moving out," she explained. 

Saturday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 pm. KPIX 5 will present "SFNext: Searching for Solutions" a special project created by the San Francisco Chronicle. Hosted by Juliette Goodrich, the program will show how regular citizens are seeking innovative solutions to some of the persistent problems that bedevil San Francisco.

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