By Jessica Mele, Executive Director

It’s December, and election day already seems a world (and a few turkey dinners) away. This year, I gave thanks that San Francisco voters decisively passed Proposition C by 74.44%!!! As I wrote in a blog post in October, Prop C included the reauthorization of two public sources of funding for arts education – the Public Education Enrichment Fund (PEEF – formerly Prop H) and the Children’s Fund. The board of Performing Arts Workshop unanimously voted to endorse Prop C for this reason — to strengthen and grow the support system for children and families in San Francisco.

Proposition C not only reauthorized two vital public funding sources for services for children and families; it also improved the existing governing structure for one of the funds, increased the baseline of funding for the Children’s Fund, expanded to serve more youth, and created an oversight council at the Mayor’s office.

At the Workshop, we’re under no illusions that these funding sources will mean equitable access for all SF youth to high-quality arts education. That kind of equity takes investment of all kinds. And at the same time, I am proud that San Francisco voters took a stand for the public’s investment in educational equity. These kinds of investments will hopefully keep children and families in San Francisco for many years to come.

Summarized changes to each fund as a result of passing Prop C:

Public Education Enrichment Fund
-Eliminate a provision that allowed the city to defer up to a quarter of the set contributions to PEEF in any year the city had a budget shortfall of $100 million or more (known as the “trigger”).
-Lengthen the sunset to 26 years from 15 years, so reauthorization happens in tandem with Children’s Fund.
-Require the city to provide its PEEF allocation to the school district entirely in cash (rather than in-kind services)
-Extend funding for universal preschool to include 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, but would still give priority to 4-year-olds. The City could also use these funds to develop services for children from birth to 3 years old.

Children’s Fund
-Increase the Children’s Fund allocation from the General Fund to $0.04 per $100 of assessed property value (from $0.03)
-Expanded to include Transitional Aged Youth (aged 18-24, who have aged out of of the foster care & juvenile justice systems)
-Lengthen the sunset to 25 years (from 10 years), so reauthorization happens in tandem with PEEF.
-Create a new, strengthened Citizen’s Advisory Council, with more oversight and budget authority (details currently being drafted in trailing legislation)
-Extend granting cycle from 3 to 5 years.

Create a new oversight council of city department heads whose departments provide children and family services (ex: DCYF, SFUSD, Department of Public Health; Department of Public Works, etc. – details currently being drafted in trailing legislation). This council would create a plan for the city to improve the condition of children and families, assessing city policies and programs and making general recommendations every five years.

References: “City of San Francisco ‘Children and Families First’ City Funds, Tax and Administration Proposal, Proposition C (November 2014)” – Ballotpedia