• Measure seeks renewal of San Francisco’s Children & Youth Fund, Public Education Enrichment Funds
• Would reorganize the City’s Rainy Day Fund
SAN FRANCISCO, California— City Hall on July 8 presented a proposed Charter Amendment to extend the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund for 25 and 26 years, respectively, for the November 2014 ballot.
Mayor Edwin M. Lee and all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors said the proposed Charter Amendment also creates the “Our Children, Our Families Council” to plan for the improvement of city services for youth and families and reform Rainy Day Reserves that fund youth, family and education programs.
“This November, we will ask San Francisco voters to renew the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund – all without raising property tax rates,” said Mayor Lee. “We know we must invest in our schools and our families so we can do even more to prepare our young people for their future.
“After many months of discussion, we are excited to bring together one unified measure that we can all support,” said Supervisor Norman Yee, primary sponsor of the proposed Charter Amendment. “This measure is a way for us to come together as a city and collectively prioritize children and families’ needs. We hope that this cultural shift – putting families first – will entice others to choose San Francisco as a place to raise their children.”
Supervisor John Avalos said, “With San Francisco’s affordability crisis we need the Children and Families Initiative now more than ever.” Avalos is a co-sponsor of the proposed Charter Amendment.
“Since we approved college prep graduation requirements in 2009, SFUSD has seen $77 million in State funding cuts,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, also a co-sponsor of the proposed amendment.
“Our children depend on the critical funding provided by the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF) and the Children’s Fund. PEEF alone has ensured that our students have credentialed art teachers, librarians, athletic coaches, physical education and peer resource teachers, as well as funding for health and wellness centers,” Kim explained.
Children and Youth Fund
In 1991, the voters first created in the City Charter a Children’s Fund, which receives a set portion of the property tax each year. The current amount of the set-aside is 3 cents for each $100 of assessed property value.
The Children’s Fund is used to increase services for children under 18 years of age, including childcare, health services, job training, social services, out-of-school programs, educational programs, recreational and cultural programs and delinquency prevention services. The Department of Children, Youth and Their Families currently administers the Children’s Fund. The Children’s Fund and the property tax set-aside are set to expire on June 30, 2016.
The proposal would extend the Children and Youth Fund and the property tax set-aside for 25 years, until June 30, 2041. It would increase the property tax set-aside a quarter cent each year for four years, from the current three cents for each $100 of assessed property value to four cents for each $100 of assessed property value in fiscal year 2018-2019 and thereafter. It would not increase or otherwise change the property tax rate; it would only affect how the City may spend the tax.
The proposal would allow the City to use the Children and Youth Fund to provide services to Disconnected Transitional-Aged Youth (TAY), as well as to continue to provide services to children younger than 18 years. TAY are 18 through 24 years old youth who: are homeless or in danger of homelessness; have dropped out of high school; have a disability or other special needs, including substance abuse; are low-income parents; are undocumented; are new immigrants and/or English Learners; are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQQ); and/or are transitioning from the foster care, juvenile justice, criminal justice or special education systems.
The proposal would also set a spending baseline for services to Disconnected Transitional-Aged Youth based on what the City spent in fiscal year 2013-2014. The City would be required to continue spending this amount each year, adjusted for inflation, for these purposes, separate from the set-aside for the Fund.
The proposal would change the current three-year planning cycle for spending from the Children and Youth Fund to a five-year cycle, and set out additional steps in the cycle.
This longer planning cycle will support stronger evaluation processes and greater stability in programs. The proposal would create an 11-member Children, Youth and Their Families Oversight and Advisory Committee to participate in the planning process and oversee the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families and administration of the Fund.
The Mayor and the Board of Supervisors would appoint the members of the Committee. The Board of Supervisors would set the structure and further functions of the Committee by ordinance. The proposal would replace the current Advisory Committee for the Fund with a new Service Provider Working Group, which will advise the Oversight and Advisory Committee.
Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF)
In 2004, voters created the PEEF requiring the City to make a specified annual contribution. The annual contribution was approximately $77.1 million for fiscal year 2013-2014.
The Charter requires the City to disburse funds from the PEEF each year: one-third of the PEEF to the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) for arts, music, sports, and library programs; one-third to the First Five Commission for universal pre-school programs for 5 year-olds in San Francisco; and one-third to SFUSD for general education purposes.
The PEEF, and the requirements for the City’s annual contributions to and disbursements from the PEEF, are set to expire on June 30, 2015.
The proposal would extend the PEEF, and the City’s annual contributions to and disbursements from the PEEF, for 26 years, until June 30, 2041. It would change the current allocation for universal preschool for four-year-olds to an allocation for universal early education for three to five year-olds, but still give priority to four year-olds.
This early education portion of the PEEF could also be used to develop services for children from birth to three years old. The proposal would move oversight of the program from the First Five Commission to the City’s Office of Early Care and Education. It would also create a Citizens Advisory Committee for this portion of the PEEF.
The proposal would eliminate the City’s authority to defer up to 25 percent of its contributions to and disbursements from the PEEF in years in which the City projected a revenue shortfall of $100 million or more.
Children and Families Council
The proposal would create “Our Children, Our Families Council” to advise the City on the unmet needs of children and families in San Francisco and on priorities, program goals and best practices for addressing those needs through the creation of a Children and Families Plan for the City.
The Mayor and the SFUSD Superintendent would Co-Chair the Council. Other members of the Council would include the heads of City and SFUSD Departments and members of the community.
No later than July 1, 2016, and every fifth year after that, the Children and Families Council would prepare and adopt a Children and Families Plan for the City, which would include a comprehensive assessment of City policies and programs, addressing the needs of children and families in San Francisco, and policy level recommendations for making the City more supportive of children and families.
Rainy Day Reserve
In any year when the City collects over five percent more money than it collected in the previous year, the City deposits half of this money in the Rainy Day Reserve Fund. The City may only take money out of the Rainy Day Reserve Fund when it collects less money than it did in the previous year.
The City may give up to one quarter of the money in the Reserve Fund to SFUSD when the School District collects less money per student than in the previous year and plans significant layoffs, but the City is not required to give SFUSD the money.
The proposal would divide the existing Rainy Day Reserve into a City Rainy Day Reserve and a School Rainy Day Reserve. In any year when the City collected over five percent more money than it collected in the previous year, the City would deposit half of this money in the two reserves, with three quarters of that amount going to the City Reserve and one quarter going to the School Reserve.
So in a year when the City’s revenues grew by more than 5 percent over the previous year, for every $100.00 the City collected over that threshold, it would deposit half of the money in the two reserves, $37.50 in the City Reserve and $12.50 in the School Reserve.
If approved by voters, the City would transfer half the balance of the existing Rainy Day Reserve to the City Reserve and half to the School Reserve.