Last night, during the March 1, 2022, Special Meeting, the Board of Education had a discussion about a Tentative Agreement (TA) between United Educators of San Francisco and San Francisco Unified School District which proposes to eliminate the extra Advanced Placement (AP) funding schools have received based on the number of AP tests its students take. (You can view the video of the 3/01/2022 Special Meeting once it is posted here.)
There is a lot of misinformation about this funding. I see it echoed in much of the media and online in social media threads. In an effort to correct this, I posted a video last week explaining how this funding works and why it is inherently unfair.
According to the District, these are the facts. SFUSD has been spending approximately $6.5 million annually on the additional prep period for AP teachers. The district also states that based on its research, “SFUSD is the only district in the Bay Area that has been offering an additional prep to teachers of AP. According to a College Board analysis several years back, SFUSD may be the only school district with the practice of giving an extra prep for AP classes.”
Many of the callers last night, called in to express concerns about potential site cuts at Lowell High School. As many folks know, Lowell High School previously had a selective enrollment policy that has screened out students who are less likely to take AP tests. Thus, Lowell High School, a school that serves the highest performing students, has traditionally received the most money from the district general fund.
All schools should be funded fairly. A school’s funding should not be tied to its students’ ability to take tests. This is inherently inequitable. It also discourages schools from serving students with disabilities and English Language Learners who often require more resources.
Last week, I asked the Superintendant to tell me just how big the disparities were in school funding. I was surprised to learn that some schools receive so much money, they have EXTRA money that they use to pay for additional courses, while other schools still have to dip into their school site budgets to support AP classes.
Here’s an example of current AP Prep Funding. This year (2021–2022) Washington High School will receive $671.582 with $237.658 leftover, after covering AP teacher preps.
Conversely, Mission HS will receive $151.873 and spend $138.782 on AP preps which requires the school to pay an additional $13,091 out of their budget to cover expenses.
When you analyze Lowell High School’s budget, this inequity is even larger. As the largest high school, one would expect Lowell to receive the most money. That said, selective enrollment has meant Lowell has the largest AP to student ratio (and most AP funding) of any high school in SFUSD.
In 2021–2022, Lowell HS will receive $2,643,782. After covering AP preps, it will receive $1,363,706 EXTRA to provide additional classes other schools cannot afford. (I have asked staff to make specific site funding available to the public. When it is available, I will post it here.)
In summary: This AP funding model gives more resources to some schools at the expense of others. This is unfair.
Last night, the Board voted unanimously to correct an inequitable funding model that has existed for decades. This vote may prove to be politically unpopular for community members who previously benefited. Nonetheless, under the current budget crisis, we can no longer wait to do what is right.