Newsom earmarks surplus funds
for youth services
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
May 25, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - School officials, city leaders,
nonprofit organizations and high school students gathered yesterday
as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pledged millions for programs
aimed at helping young people.
The announcement was a relief for many as $100 million-plus budget
deficits over the last three years have left the city's school
and childcare systems with little room for improvement.
"We were not in a position to make the kind of investment
that we will be announcing yesterday in regards to our youth and
children," Newsom told a cheering audience at Ida B. Wells
High School in the Western Addition "This year, in spite
of a projected budget deficit of $12 million, we will be in a
position to invest $34.8 million."
Newsom had been working with many of the individuals and organizations
present at yesterday's announcement on divvying up the extra money,
generated from a surplus of tax revenue. A majority of the funds
will go to building affordable housing for families if approved
by the Board of Supervisors.
Another chunk of money, $3.3 million, would go toward an ambitious
plan to provide preschool and childcare services to all of San
Francisco's homeless children. The city's homeless families would
also benefit from increased funding for rental subsidies and eviction
Other programs Newsom focused on are language immersion classes,
student-loan repayment for San Francisco teachers, health and
fitness seminars, foster care, wellness centers, after school
programs, violence prevention and programs designed to help troubled
youths transition into adulthood through job opportunities.
The mayor also earmarked some money for a new public school that
would specialize in science and technology, and many of the 50
or so students in attendance cracked nervous smiles when Newsom
mentioned increased efforts in truancy prevention.
The proposed budget will go before the Board of Supervisors on
June 1. Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi were also
on hand to support the mayor's focus on family, youth and children's
Mirkarimi, who supervises the Western Addition, said he was pleased
with the budget and he strongly believed in a plan that puts children
"We can do more and do better," Newsom said. "The
board will tweak my budget, and that's OK."
San Francisco Unified School District Interim Superintendent
Gwen Chan said she was still in a state of shock over the news,
and Margaret Brodkin, the director of the mayor's Department of
Children, Youth and Families, said this "was the thrill of
The mayor's office also plans to "invest" $580,000
toward programs like the Family Ambassadors Project, which connects
families in need with the various outreach programs throughout
the city. Project Manager Ellen Rodgers said the mayor's concentration
on youth and children will help make San Francisco a family-friendly
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