Central Unified adds jobs while others cut back

FRESNO, Calif.

Central Unified is a growing school district. While they are feeling the sting of the state budget, district leaders say they have saved and prepared for hard times.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren't the only things students at Central Unified will soon learn on a daily basis.

This fall, students in kindergarten through high school will participate in dance, music and drama through an expanded art program.

Teague Elementary Principal, Gina Amaro-McNamara said, "They get to learn about not just reading a story but how it comes to life…"

This is one of several programs Central Unified is investing in during a time when surrounding school districts are slashing jobs and millions from their budgets because of the state budget crisis.

Superintendent Mike Berg relies on his background in finance. "We operate like a private enterprise."

Over the past two years the district has cut back, strengthened reserves, and relied on local tax dollars.

"We didn't just look at what the state was going to feed us. We looked at business partnerships, community partnerships," said Berg.

The end result means more teachers at central unified schools. Last year Central Unified gave layoff notices to one hundred teachers, this year the district has rehired all of them.

Teague Elementary Principal Gina Amaro-McNamara says kids learn better when they know and trust their teachers. "Keeping teachers here not having to go through notice process and moving teachers from school site to school site helps alleviate anxiety for kids."

Central Unified is also opening a brand new middle school in the fall, and kindergarten classes are going from a half day to a full day of instruction. The district is looking to hire teachers who specialize in arts program.

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