On our public schools.
A resident asks: “I was wondering what your ideas are for helping improve San Bruno Public Schools?”
The first thing to say here is just that city government is not in charge of the schools. Those are administered by the San Bruno Park School District and San Mateo Union High School District. The Council is not supposed to try to interfere with the details of how the schools get run.
That said, school districts are in large part funded by local taxes, and a lot of extracurriculars are funded through donations. Building up the local economy by making it easier to open businesses and re-develop properties in our transit corridor is critical for getting our schools funded well enough that we can pay our teachers properly. Successful local businesses also often like to make donations for school programs.
Additionally, while I’m not aware of any specific project in the pipeline here in San Bruno, you might look at what’s happened in Daly City recently. They’ve opened a dedicated affordable housing project that can accomodate a quarter of their staff.
We have the issue in the region that we have schools closing for lack of students. To the extent that schools aren’t in use, we at least could look at re-purposing the land for affordable teacher housing, to keep the other schools running. Building anything involves permits from the city, and so the city has some discretion in how easy or difficult to make that, through zoning and building code. I am strongly in favor of making these processes simpler and faster.
It’s important for the community to have a vigorous discussion about what kinds of things we want to build in the community. But once we’ve laid out the rules, people who are following the rules should be able to build what they want, without getting bogged down in red tape. That goes for projects like those teacher apartments in Daly City, but also for families that want to expand their house, or build an accessory unit. The last place my spouse and I rented, before we bought our home in San Bruno, was half of a duplex, which had been grandfathered in when the neighborhood around it was re-zoned for single-family only, such that duplexes became illegal to build. The guy we were renting from had grown up in the house, and then his parents duplexed it when he got married, and half became his and his wife’s starter home. Eventually they moved to a larger place, and switched to renting it out.
Getting out of the way of families that are taking the initiative to do something like that will make it easier for young families to get a toehold on the economic ladder here, which will help prevent the shuttering of more schools.