Fresno Unified School Board to discuss how to spend new funds

The Valley's largest school district will begin hearing a dramatically different budget proposal for next year.
February 25, 2014 4:39:39 PM PST
The Valley's largest school district will begin hearing a dramatically different budget proposal for next year.

For the first time, the process will include the Governor's new Local Control Funding Formula, which distributes funds to districts based on the number of low income students, English language learners and foster and homeless youth it has.

That means an additional $58 million for Fresno Unified.

While the overall plan is still being developed, the district identified three areas it would like to invest new dollars including reducing class sizes, increasing funds to individual school sites and improving campus security.

High tech security systems like this one at Roosevelt high school could soon be installed at middle and high school campuses all over Fresno Unified under a new budget proposal released by the district Tuesday afternoon.

"About 3 million we're estimating for increased security cameras, hi tech, infrared, hi resolution at our middle school/high school campuses and then another half a million roughly for lighting improvements at the same time," said Superintendent Michael Hanson.

A much-needed investment after a teacher was attacked inside a classroom at Edison High school last December and several campuses were targeted by crooks after copper wire.

"We just think that's a big deterrent and folks will stay away from campus knowing we can see them at night and we have high resolution making it much more likely they will be caught," added Hanson.

Under the Governor's new Local Control Funding Formula, the district is required to reduce classroom sizes to 24 students in kindergarten to third grades by the year 2021, but FUSD plans to get a jump on meeting that goal starting next year.

"That would mean we'd be looking at another 39 teachers immediately to fill those slots at a cost of 2.5 million dollars," said Hanson.

The district also recommends an increase of $2 million in discretionary funds for individual school sites to pay for things like guest speakers, educational programs and field trips.

It also plans to boost athletics and activities by another $700,000 for uniforms, protective equipment and additional support.

"We're looking to increase the stipend for those working in extra-curricular activities," said Hanson.

In some cases, he said stipend would be doubled or tripled. The board will hear the district's plans at its meeting Wednesday night.

Deputy Superintendent Ruth Quinto said board members will then have a chance to give their feedback and will work to further develop the budget before a final proposal is voted on in June.

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