Jill Wynns for San Francisco School Board

Jill Wynns for San Francisco School Board

Jill Wynns

Friends, it has been twenty-four years since I was first elected to the San Francisco School Board. I am proud of many of the great things that we have done in that time. Our school district is the highest achieving urban school district in California, with test scores above the state as a whole.

Our children now have art and music, physical education, sports, librarians, social workers, nurses and other support professionals. Community school programs bring a wealth of health, recreation, counseling and support services to our kids and their families. Our Arts Education Master Plan is respected and envied around the world. We are leaders in the important evolution to replace punitive discipline with restorative practices. We have instituted a Weighted Student Formula and Site-Based Budgeting. Most importantly, we are in the forefront of changing our instructional strategies to a more rigorous and meaningful one for the twenty-first century.

We continue to work on our equity agenda to make high achievement that leads to success in life possible for each and every one of our students.

Now I am excited to begin another four years and to lead us to new and exciting level of achievement and joy for our students. I want to see our After-School for All initiative completed so that every student has an after-school program at his own school.
And, we are poised to pass Prop A, the local school bond, that will fund $100 million for our new Arts Center and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.
Now we can start out capital campaign and raise the rest of the money privately to realize Ruth Asawa and our dream of the best public arts high school in the country. I want to be here to put the shovel in the ground and, just maybe, cut the ribbon as a school board member.

I need your help. I need to raise $50,000 for a successful campaign. Please make as large a donation as you can afford. And, get in touch if you can help me, or I can help you.

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My eternal thanks to all for your friendship and support. Jill

Funding and Compensation

Recent news coverage has highlighted the relatively low pay of teachers in SFUSD. Why are our salaries not competitive?

The temporary tax increases authorized under Proposition 30 have nearly brought us back to inflation-adjusted 2007-2008 funding levels. California is still among the lowest funded states in per pupil funding for public education, and also has a state-controlled school funding system where local communities have extremely limited opportunities to fund their own local schools. While we have developed local sources of funding for San Francisco public schools, we remain a very low-funded school district.

We have chosen to invest in important programs for our students. These are supports that our students need. They include language programs, restorative practices, academic coaching, art and music programs, special academic areas like ethnic studies, assistant principals for large schools, support personnel like social workers, nurses and counselors, and, most significantly, smaller class sizes. These are the kinds of things that all schools need and should have. In states with higher funding like Massachusetts and New York, they do. Here in San Francisco, we have made these investments because we agree that they are the right thing to do. But this means that we have not had enough money to keep up with the needed investments in salaries and benefits.

We have also had extreme increases in required payments for districts into the State Teachers Retirement System. About half of the money coming to school districts from the temporary increases in income taxes must be paid for retirement costs.

School Board members and the administration must face the reality that compensation is the most important priority for our school district at this time. There will be tough choices to be made. We will probably have to choose between raises and further investments in worthy programs. I plan to speak against new programs and, if I have to, to vote against funds for new programs and increased funding for on-going programs.
Our employees must come first at this time of crisis.

Now we are in a crisis. Teachers can’t afford the skyrocketing rents in San Francisco.

Educator Housing in 2016

I have been concerned about housing affordability for teachers and other school employees for many years. Twelve years ago our school district and members of the Board of Education was talking about housing support for teachers. We got an architect to do a study of the conditions necessary to build teacher housing and had a developer interested in building a teacher housing project on school district land. We also did a conceptual design for an apartment building that was to have been a component of the new Dianne Feinstein School. The school is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with no housing on the site.

Shockingly, we faced strong opposition to this project from neighbors, at least one member of the Board of Supervisors and even some of the members of the School Board. Some teacher groups questioned whether anyone would want to live in a “teacher town” and neighbors, including teachers among them, calling the proposed building “public housing” around which we should be concerned that crime would escalate. The teacher’s union took the position that we had to be prepared to provide the same benefit for all teachers, whether they owned a home in San Francisco or were newly arrived and struggling to find affordable housing.

Over the years we continued to talk to the teachers union, to make repeated statements of support at the Board and to study what others were doing about housing support for educators. But, we fell behind the curve when we might have had some momentum and been leaders in this area.

Today, finding housing in San Francisco is an existential crisis for teachers, and will be for the school district if we do not do something.
Teaching and other school jobs cannot be outsourced; we must have a way for our employees to live in San Francisco if we are to have a viable school district for future generations. The one major asset that we have to contribute to this enterprise is land. We are not sitting on lots of empty land, but we have some school sites with extra land and we have a few pieces of land that we can possibly use for housing.

We have seriously engaged with the city to expand housing subsidies that can help school employees to live here. And, the new housing bond that the city passed includes funding that may be used to build a teacher housing project on school district land. Our November bond includes
$5 million to invest in educator housing. Our main contribution to this effort will be land. We are finally on the road to addressing this crisis, ten or twelve years late, but better late than never.

This is one of my highest priorities. I challenge our entire community to step up for our educators.

After School for All

Today almost all parents need after-school programs for their school age children. San Francisco offers a wide array of school, center and home-based programs and most include some degree of public funding, often from the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families as part of San Francisco’s ground-breaking Children’s Fund. But many parents have a difficult time finding quality after-school programs that are convenient for them. Getting your child from school to after-school care when you may be across town at work can be a daunting challenge.

The School District has made a significant commitment to the expansion of after-school programs. However, we ended up with a mish-mash of funding sources, multiple programs in most schools and waiting lists at many schools. It was definitely time to re-organize our after-school programs to create a seamless, comprehensive, coherent system to better serve all our students.

In 2014, after years of discussions with child care advocates, I authored a policy to create an After-School for All Program within the San Francisco Unified School District. The District administration, principals, parent advocates, and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families all agreed that we should improve our after-school system so that every child in a SFUSD elementary school may participate in the after-school program at their own school. After careful deliberation, the Board of Education passed this new policy unanimously.

The District and DCYF are working together to implement this policy.
We have merged programs at several schools, choosing a single provider to serve all students, regardless of their eligibility for child care subsidies. Waiting lists are gone at many schools.

For the coming year we will continue to work towards these goals at every SFUSD elementary school. A single sliding scale fee structure in in development and an integrated on-line registration for all after-school programs that have public funding is planned.

When families visit schools in SFUSD looking for a kindergarten for their
child, the answer to the question, “Do you have an after-school program for my child?” the answer must always be “Yes.” We are well on the way to achieving this goal in the next year or two.

In addition, we are expanding and investing in after-school programs in our middle schools and high schools. Better alignment and coordination for these schools will play a crucial role in achieving our equity goals and expanding the school day.

Information about After-School for All can be found on the District’s website – www.sfusd.edu.

JROTC in Our Schools

Jill Wynns supports JROTC as a choice for students 

Jill Wynns has consistently been the school board’s voice for students, families and schools in their effort to keep JROTC in SFUSD high schools. She is the only incumbent running for re-election who has consistently supported JROTC in every board vote and in the public discussion.

The debate over whether to continue the JROTC program in San Francisco high schools has made national news. Now Jill is supporting JROTC backers who are campaigning for Prop. V, an advisory measure asking San Francisco voters to support keeping JROTC.

To learn more about Jill’s views on JROTC, read her commentary:

A steadfast liberal’s view: How JROTC benefits youth 

By Jill Wynns

How did a longtime liberal/progressive who has demonstrated against wars from Vietnam to Iraq become the San Francisco school board’s champion of JROTC in our schools? People have been asking me that question since the JROTC issue erupted in San Francisco and hit the national news.

A Sunday Chronicle article, “Pitched battle over ROTC in S.F. schools,” summed up the current situation in that saga: “The 90-year-old JROTC will end in June [2009] – unless the district school board has an 11th-hour change of heart sometime before then. A Nov. 4 ballot measure, Proposition V, hopes to sway the board with a nonbinding vote of public support for the program.”

It’s especially unfortunate that the Board of Education voted in June to eliminate PE credit for JROTC. (I was the lone vote for keeping PE credit, with two board members absent for that meeting.) That meant a rush of students who had been in JROTC enrolled in PE, forcing our schools to hire seven new PE teachers. But it was too late to eliminate the JROTC classes that suddenly lost their enrollment, so we have to spend almost $1 million to pay those now-unneeded JROTC instructors. That’s $1 million that was desperately needed for other classroom needs.

I’m far from the only liberal in this paradoxical situation – becoming a visible supporter of a program run by the military. Like others, I have a longtime record that would look far-left to middle America. I marched against the Vietnam war. I opposed the Bush wars and went to demonstrations against the Iraq war.

But I have learned that progressive politics does not exist in a vacuum. We have to consider the practical realities: How do our decisions affect real students and schools every day?

Simply put, many students have benefited from JROTC.  (Click here to read the rest of the commentary.)

These news articles from the San Francisco Chronicle track the JROTC controversy over the past 2 1/2 years, and show Jill’s support for the program.

Board has plan to oust ROTC from S.F. schools
Members want to cut program over ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’
San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 2006 

Board of Education members Mark Sanchez and Dan Kelly announced that they would propose a resolution to eliminate JROTC, which has 1,600 members in seven SFUSD high schools. Jill Wynns said she supported keeping JROTC.

Read more here

School Board Votes to Dump JROTC Program
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 15, 2006 

The BOE voted 4-2 on Nov. 14, 2006, to phase out the JROTC program in San Francisco high schools over two years, approving a resolution sponsored by Dan Kelly and Mark Sanchez. Wynns was one of two votes against killing the program.

Read more here

S. F. school board delays decision on reprieve for JROTC program
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 13, 2007 

School board president Mark Sanchez removed a resolution on JROTC from the meeting agenda after the meeting began, saying it didn’t have enough support. The resolution, by Sanchez and Kim-Shree Maufas, called for extending the program for an additional year, but contained what JROTC supporters said were poison pills ensuring JROTC’s death.
Read more here

Board approves year extension for high schools’ JROTC program
Classes allowed to count for physical education credit
San Francisco Chronicle Dec. 13, 2007 

The Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve a revised plan that would allow JROTC to continue for a year. JROTC backers supported this version of the plan. Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar were the two votes against the extension.
Read more here

S.F. schools’ P.E. credit for JROTC survives
San Francisco Chronicle, June 18, 2008 

At a special meeting with the bare minimum 24 hours’ notice given – and no official start time given – the Board of Education deadlocked with a tie vote on a resolution by Jane Kim and Norman Yee to eliminate PE credit for JROTC, which JROTC backers say would effectively kill the program. The vote was 3-3, with Jill Wynns, Hydra Mendoza and Kim-Shree Maufas voting to keep the P.E. credit. Resolution co-sponsor Jane Kim was absent.
Read more here

JROTC supporters upset over school board’s second vote on program
San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 2008 

JROTC advocates objected to the fact that Board of Education President Mark Sanchez called a special meeting on short notice, at 4 p.m. on a weekday, to take a new vote on a resolution sponsored by Norman Yee and Jane Kim to eliminate P.E. credit for JROTC. A previous vote on the resolution had tied 3-3, and two of the three board members who voted to keep P.E. credit for JROTC were out of town for the new special meeting.
Read more here

School board kills P.E. credit for JROTC
San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2008 

The Board of Education approved a resolution by members Norman Yee and Jane Kim to end awarding P.E. credit for JROTC, which JROTC supporters said would effectively end the program because it’s difficult for many students to fit both JROTC and P.E. into the school day. Jill Wynns cast the lone vote against the resolution, with two previous votes against the resolution – Kim-Shree Maufas and Hydra Mendoza – out of town.
Read more here

Pitched battle over JROTC in S.F. schools
San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 21, 2008 

Because of the timing of the Jane Kim/Norman Yee resolution eliminating P.E. credit for JROTC, SFUSD will have to spend an extra $1 million to pay JROTC instructors who now teach only a handful of students, along with seven new P.E. teachers to handle those students. The article also reports that promised leadership courses intended to replace JROTC aren’t panning out.
Read more here

Addendum
San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 22, 2008 

An item in the Chronicle’s “Corrections” column reports that Board of Education member Norman Yee, co-author of the resolution that effectively killed JROTC, maintains that he is in favor of keeping JROTC in SFUSD high schools, contrary to the description of him as a JROTC opponent in the previous day’s article.
Read more here