SAN FRANCISCO—In response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget cuts, San Francisco joined five other school districts in a letter sent to legislators on Monday, May 18, explaining that reduced funding will impede the reopening of schools.
The budget cuts were presented in the May revision to the Governor’s budget report on Thursday, May 14, three days after his request to Congress for a $1 trillion federal aid package.
In the report, he details $14 billion in budget cuts due to the statewide financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Among many funding reductions, the budget withdraws a plan to expand healthcare for undocumented persons in order to save over $112 million. On Monday, May 18, the California Department of Social Services announced a disaster relief program for undocumented immigrants.
From a $125 million fund, the program will offer stimulus checks in $500 increments for undocumented adults who qualify. Applications will be open until June 30 and no household can receive over $1000 in assistance from the program. The program intends to reach about 150,000 undocumented residents.
About half of the funding cuts come from K-12 public schools, leading six school districts to make new demands.
Signers of the May 18 letter include San Francisco Superintendent Vincent Matthews along with the superintendents of Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, San Diego, and Long Beach, who together represent over 900,000 students.
According to the letter, in the transition to remote learning, school districts have provided over 24 million meals, over 300,000 devices and hotspots, and training for over 40,000 educators.
The letter made 16 requests for legislators to consider as they continue to revise the budget. One demand is to “Allocate funding from the State’s $16 billion Budget Stabilization Account to minimize reductions to school funding.”
“Cuts will mean that the reopening of schools will be delayed even after State guidance and clearance from public health officials is given,” the letter states. “The notion that schools can continue to operate safely in the fall with a decreased State budget is not realistic.”