The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), which has for months been at odds with parents about reopening schools, is being accused of ‘blatant money grab’ after reportedly sending high schoolers to school for one day a week in order to make schools eligible for state reopening funds.
The story: The San Francisco teachers’ union officials announced over the weekend that high school seniors will be allowed to return to one-day in-person learning during the final weeks of the school year.
The United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) reached an agreement with the SFUSD on Friday which will allow students to attend in-person learning for a limited time.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the last day of learning is June 2 and graduation ceremonies are scheduled between June 1 and 3.
That means high schoolers who return to school can have only about three days of in-person learning before the school year ends.
“UESF brought the initial proposal to SFUSD so that our current graduating seniors would have the opportunity to spend some time in-person on campus with teachers and their peers during their last few weeks of high school as they say goodbye to classmates and prepare for graduation and the next chapter of their lives,” UESF President Susan Solomon said in an email.
SFUSD spokeswoman Laura Dudnick said the district conducted a survey of parents of high schoolers to see how they feel about their children returning to school for a limited time.
May 14, the date high school seniors are set to return for limited in-person instruction, is one day ahead of the May 15 deadline “to meet California’s minimum reopening requirements that are needed for the school district to receive its share of the $2 billion in grant funds the Legislature approved in March,” according to the SF Chronicle.
Under California’s system for reopening, had the SFUSD reopened schools by April 1, they would’ve been eligible for $17 million in state reopening funds, according to the Chronicle.
A separate report by the paper published Tuesday states by allowing high schoolers to return to school, even for only a few days, schools will be eligible to receive $12 million in state reopening funds.
State officials told the Chronicle that if students return to school for just one or two days, district schools won’t be eligible for the plan.
Some reactions: Assemblyman Phil Ting, who sponsored the legislation to incentivize school reopening, said he was “absolutely shocked” by the district’s move.
“The point was to reopen and to stay open,” he said
During a meeting on Tuesday, the district updated school board members about their plan, but public speakers who particiated in the meeting objected.
“I appreciate making an attempt to get the money. Those funds are needed,” said Gregory Arenius during public comments, according to the Chronicle. “That said, this plan is disgusting. Everybody involved should be ashamed of themselves.
One high school student said she found it “insulting that they’re trying to make up for a loss of over a year with a few days. It probably wouldn’t even be at my own school with my teachers.”
Parents and reopening advocacy groups also blasted the plan as an attempt at obtaining hefty reopening funds while doing little for students.
“What message does this give our kids about what they are worth and how adults take care of our vulnerable populations, including kids? Does this show them that they matter, or just that the money matters?” the group Decreasing the Distance said in a statement. “One senior told us she wants to return, but not like this. Her reaction: ‘It’s too little too late. School’s over.’”
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Author: Damjan Tutarkov
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