San Francisco’s School Board elections are perhaps more significant than in other cities, yet this hype is not commensurate with the mostly bleak reputation of San Francisco’s public school system. Why all the fuss then? Perhaps because the Board of Education is an independent — and thus more powerful — body that operates separately from city government. Or maybe it’s because the School Board serves as a sort of training ground for those who later run for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. Then again, elections could be so important exactly because of the unpromising outlook for the public schools: we all hope for change and improvement for the City, whether or not we have school-age children. Therefore, although the impact might be indirect, School Board elections can affect you as a parent, a taxpayer and a homeowner, so you should be aware of them when you vote.
Here are some facts to help you understand the structure and role of the City’s Board of Education: elections take place citywide, there are seven seats on the Board, and members serve four-year terms. According to the S.F. Unified School District’s Web site, the School Board is responsible for no less than “establishing educational goals and standards, approving curriculum, [determining] the School District budget [independent of the City's budget], confirming appointment[s] of all personnel, approving purchases of equipment, supplies, services, leases, renovation, construction, and union contract[s].” The Board also appoints the Superintendent of Schools who handles the administration of the district.By the way, the Board of Education is comprised of seven members, elected at large to serve four-year terms.