More state funding for Spanish speaking, low-income students? - Morgan Hill Times: Education

More state funding for Spanish speaking, low-income students?

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 3:26 pm

Next week's unveiling of Gov. Jerry Brown's 2013-2014 budget could mean a banner year for the Morgan Hill Unified School District's state cash flow.

Brown's proposed budget is expected to include a significant increase in state funding - $3,000 per student - for each child who does not speak English at home (known as English Language Learners), and for each child from a low-income family. This would be a big boost for school districts that have a disproportionate number of students in these demographics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 33.1 percent of Morgan Hill’s children age 5 or older speak a language other than English at home, and persons below the poverty level was at 11 percent for the 2007-2011 census period.

MHUSD Superintendent Wes Smith believes that English Language Learners are a group that would greatly benefit.

“I think any school funding reform that provides greater equity – giving the neediest students the greatest resources – is a step in the right direction,” Smith said.

However, Smith believes changes need to be made for the measure to be effective.

“Our leaders having been writing ‘IOUs’ to California’s students since 2008 and it would be a shame if this new funding model was used by politicians to back out of repaying their debt to our children and young adults,” he said.

This isn't the first time Brown has attempted to reallocate funding for K-12 schools in California. The measure is also encountering resistance from some of the more affluent school districts in the state.

Board of Education President Wes Fifield, with the Upland Unified School District in southern California, opposes the measure.

“If there's less money for us, as a board member for the Upland Unified School District, I'm obviously not thrilled about that,” he told the LA Daily News.

Michael Kirst, president of the State Board of Education, attempted to quell fears, telling the LA Daily News that “There never was a proposal to take money from schools and give it to other schools. All schools are to increase in their amounts. They'll just increase differently.”

With the outcome of the new budget still unsure, Smith is skeptical.

“I believe our elected representatives can do better than that,” Smith said.

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