Bay Area schools get financial help

May 11, 2009 7:10:51 PM PDT
California schools are finally getting some much needed financial help. It's the state's share of federal stimulus money.

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In the Bay Area, school districts are getting millions of dollars. San Francisco Unified is getting $13 million, and Oakland is getting $10 million.

Schools in San Jose will have $8 million to spend.

The 100 students at San Jose's Ace Charter School have already felt the sting of state funding cuts.

They lost their field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The $24,000 they are getting from federal stimulus funds will help the school expand and improve its programs.

"It allows us to bring more staff on for the summer program and provide smaller class size and more personalized instruction for the kids. It allows us to get our teachers some coaching and some release time to be designing the curriculum and building the programs that we want to do," said Ace Charter School Executive Director Greg Lippman.

Summer school is important because this is Ace Charter school's first year and its students are focused on improving their reading deficiencies.

Across town, Hoover Middle School is one of 40 campuses run by the San Jose Unified School District. It's getting over $8 million in federal stimulus funds.

However, the district at this point isn't going to restore 79 positions; almost half of them teachers. That's because more state cuts are coming.

Ann Jones is the district's chief business officer.

"Just last Thursday, the governor's office let us know that a drop of $3.6 billion to the Prop. 98 guarantees would mean $600 less per student. So for San Jose Unified, that's a potential loss of another $18 million for next year," said Jones.

Despite the tight budget, San Jose Unified has made a commitment to keep class sizes the same. They are keeping 20 students per teacher in kindergarten through second grade, and a ratio of 33 to one from fifth to 12th-grade.

Educators are clearly happy about the restoration of funds now, but next week could be another matter. If the propositions on the ballot next week are turned down, there could be even further cuts.

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