SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco public school students are back in class. The district is still hiring teachers, but for now the superintendent says there was an educator in place for every classroom on the first day of school.
The district is facing a number of challenges, including declining enrollment, a teacher shortage and a structural budget shortfall.
Wednesday was the first day back. Students say they're ready for the challenges of the coming year. "What I'm looking forward to is getting back what I didn't get last year, you know, because of COVID," said Miles Benard a senior at John O’Connell High School. "We were limited to certain things in our classes and stuff."
The district itself is facing its own challenges; including a shortage of about 40 teachers going into this school year.
The superintendent said the district is working to recruit new teachers, even offering bonuses; and that the district was able to reassign staff for the first day of class to ensure that there was an educator in every classroom in the district.
"Through reassignments I believe we were able to have every classroom have a teacher on the first day of school," said Superintendent Matt Wayne from San Francisco Unified Schools. "And so as we see how enrollment comes in we will be able to finalize the staffing to ensure that that happens throughout the school year."
The district says is taking steps to make sure that if educators don't show up in a classroom for whatever reason, students are not left unsupervised.
"That's not going to happen here," said Superintendent Wayne. "Our plan is to ensure that there are teachers with students and district staff will step in as needed. But, we do have teachers with students and everyone has a place to be."
The district is also facing declining enrollment, which could mean less money from the state. The superintendent says it may take until October before the district has hard enrollment numbers.
"We were projecting a decline from last year and we know there has been overall in the Bay Area an exodus of students, so we're seeing that trend continuing for a bit," said Superintendent Wayne.
Another issue facing the district is a structural deficit. The superintendent says the school board has worked hard to balance the budget for this 2022-23 school year, but that there are still hard decisions that will have to be made; and San Francisco voters will have a chance to decide whether the schools will get an additional $60 million per year.