Funding for SF’s $ 400 million arts center and high school project has been cut

A decades-long effort to renovate a historic Civic Center building for a new San Francisco public art school cost $ 100 million on Tuesday, after the city’s school board reallocated bond funding to meet larger needs. immediate installations.

The reallocation of the bond will also help pay for $ 10 million for security improvements at various sites; $ 15 million for the design of a new school in Mission Bay; $ 1 million for portable air purifiers; $ 14 million for schoolyard improvements; and $ 20 million for the planning and design of additional schools and other district facilities in the Bayview area.

The 2016 voter-approved measure authorized $ 744 million in facility improvement bonds, including the $ 100 million for the art school, which remains unused.

The move disappointed supporters of a new site for the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts at a former high school near City Hall. The plan also includes an art center for all students in the district. The Asawa school is currently located on the site of the former Eugene McAteer High School near Diamond Heights.

The project, however, would require seismic and other improvements to the Spanish Colonial Revival-style building at 135 Van Ness Avenue, with an estimated total cost of $ 400 million. Supporters and district officials said the project will be primarily funded by philanthropic donations, but so far that money has not been collected.

The Van Ness property occupies a prime block of real estate in the center of town and the arts district, but currently only houses the administrative offices of the school district.

The measure adopted by the council will prioritize the new art school in a future bond and ask staff to work out a realistic timeline for raising external funding for the project.

Supporters urged the board to keep bond funding available for the art center and the school, as approved by voters, to keep the project on the table.

“Sadly, I’m here tonight to say how disappointed I am,” former school board member Jill Wynns said ahead of the board vote. “It was a promise for the people of San Francisco to make the school district’s 30-year dream come true, for the community to create the best public high school of the arts in the Civic Center.”

“By redirecting the funding and offering to take it all, you are responsible for interfering with the effort.”

Jill Tucker is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: Twitter: @jilltucker

William E. Bennett

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