Mayor Edwin M. Lee and all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors voted to send end to a Charter Amendment to the November ballot to extend the Children’s Fund and the Public Education Enrichment Fund for 25 and 26 years, respectively.
The proposed Charter Amendment also creates the “Our Children, Our Families Council” to prepare a Children and Families Plan to better service youth and families and reforms Rainy Day Reserves that fund youth, family and education programs.
“If we want families to stay, grow and thrive here in San Francisco, we need to do more and that is why 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.”
This Charter Amendment integrates reauthorization of both the Children and Youth Fund (formerly called the Children’s Fund) and the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF), establishes the ‘Our Children, Our Families Council’, and creates a City Rainy Day Reserve and a School Rainy Day Reserve out of the existing Rainy Day Reserve.
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 in 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. The proposal 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. The proposal 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.
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. The proposal 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. The proposal 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.
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.