San Francisco school officials misspent and mismanaged tens of millions of dollars for school repairs and modernization projects -- and then covered it up to win voter approval for more funds, a Chronicle investigation found.
During the past 13 years, the city's school district raised $337 million through four voter-approved bond and tax measures, but nearly all the money is gone and many promised facility improvements have not been completed or were never even begun.
Records show San Francisco Unified School District used as much as $100 million of the bond and tax money to support a sprawling bureaucracy and to finance ill-conceived construction projects that ran far over budget or were never mentioned to voters.
Most of that money -- as much as $68 million -- was spent on salaries for nonteaching employees, including several officials who are now the focus of corruption investigations.
As a result, elementary school children in South of Market attend classes in seismically unsafe bungalows. An earthquake-damaged building near the Civic Center that was planned to be a new home for the city's acclaimed performing arts high school sits abandoned. Many schools remain inaccessible to the disabled. Others contain asbestos, lead and other hazardous materials.Progressives wonder why voters so seldom give a blank check to public schools.