A supervisory board vote earlier this week that appeared to approve a proposal to have the city cover the cost of the February school board recall actually failed, The Examiner has learned.
The supervisory board on Tuesday voted 7-4 to face the $ 3.25 million for the next recall election of three school board members. But it was not clear, even to town hall insiders, whether a qualified majority vote of eight was needed. The comptroller’s office confirmed on Thursday that indeed, eight votes were needed to pass the measure.
A lengthy debate had preceded the vote on funding for the recall, and discussions will continue as the school board’s recall approaches February 15 and supervisors assess a separate recall reform proposal submitted earlier this week.
The $ 3.25 million booster funding was initially part of an additional budget allocation for the Elections Department to pay for the multitude of special elections ahead of San Francisco voters in 2022, which together would cost a total of 11, $ 9 million. As it stands, the San Francisco Unified School District is still obligated to recall three school board members under state rules.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, as well as the Mayor of London Breed, who backs the recall of the three members as a recall, have offered to cover the cost of the city’s coffers. The city projects a surplus of $ 108 million over the next two years, its first in two decades, while the SFUSD grapples with a structural deficit of $ 125 million overseen by state auditors.
“These costs will be borne by one of two players: either the school district or The City,” Mandelman, who supports the recall of school board members Alison Collins and Gabriela López, told The Examiner. “The school district clearly cannot afford it. The City clearly can.
But the idea met with resistance from some board members, such as board chairman Shamann Walton, who wanted supporters of the recall to pay the costs of the election. Meanwhile, supervisor Aaron Peskin simply indicated that it was not a good policy to approve multiple fundraising initiatives on separate occasions, arguing instead that they should be carried out together. Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Connie Chan and Myrna Melgar spoke out against the principle of recalls, but ultimately did not want SFUSD to bear the cost and voted for the $ 3.25 million authorization.
“Public education in this country is at a time of existential crisis,” Ronen, who supports Collins’ recall, said at Tuesday’s meeting. “As far as I know, our school district is in the most desperate situation it has ever been. This is something we need to pay attention to at a level that we have never had to do as a city and county before. “
The city’s $ 8.7 million portion and SFUSD’s $ 3.25 million portion of special election costs were separated because funding for the school district’s recall was more controversial. Mandelman’s office is pursuing a procedural solution that would require one of the four supervisors with dissenting voices to cover SFUSD – Dean Preston, Gordon Mar, Walton and Peskin – to change their mind.
Supervisors will soon sink deeper into recall fever. Peskin introduced a charter amendment on Tuesday that would prevent recall efforts from starting until 12 months after an elected official takes office. The current minimum period to start a recall is six months.
It would also prevent recalls from taking place within one year of a regular election for that official. School board members Faauuga Moliga, López and Collins face dismissal in February and will be re-elected in November.
“By the time this reaches voters, it will be the third election in six months, we will have spent tens of millions of public funds on unscheduled elections and the turnout will be catastrophic,” Peskin said in a statement. “We have existing processes to hold elected officials accountable. This is called term limits and regular elections.
The Peskin charter amendment proposed for the June 2022 election would also remove the ability of the mayor to appoint replacements to the supervisory board, the City College of San Francisco board of directors, and the San Francisco school board in holiday event, regardless of reminders. Instead, the remaining members of these governing bodies would choose a replacement for their respective vacant posts. Supervisors Ronen, Preston, Chan, Walton and Melgar are co-sponsors.
In a move criticized by critics to extend the mayor’s control, Breed on Monday announced her own charter amendment that would create a new municipal agency overseeing all children’s services in an attempt, she said, to cut red tape. With this would come the requirement for SFUSD to submit an annual report showing that it is meeting its key goals or facing the withholding of some $ 200 million per year that is completed by San Francisco taxpayers for youth services. .
Breed and Ronen also offered to forgo a $ 26.6 million loan to SFUSD made in 2019 with conditions to adopt a multi-year plan to stabilize its finances.
“The city has no control over the school board,” Breed said, expressing frustration with the school board on Monday. “If we did, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation right now with our schools. Now, what I’m saying with this money that we’re providing, we take some responsibility for it. It is not about nothing but fixing our broken governance structure. “