Fresno Unified loses $2.2M in state money

FRESNO, Calif.

The impact will be felt in three middle schools, Yosemite, Sequoia and Tehipite, and Lane elementary school. They were among 19 Fresno Unified Schools receiving extra money thorough the "Quality Education Investment Act" or QEIA program. The loss means the schools will lose a total of 26 teachers and as a result the number of students in each classroom will increase.

Fresno Unified Superintendent /*Michael Hanson*/ says the loss of the money is unfortunate, but he was not a fan of the QEIA program, which paid to have more experienced teachers in classrooms and reduce class size.

"We did what was required under the program and we didn't get the results which further proves the point that just trying to reduce class size and get a certain teacher experience level on the campus doesn't make for academic growth."

Hanson says the program was difficult to implement. He acknowledges the loss will mean larger classes in the four affected schools. He says the loss of the $ 2.2 million is unfortunate, but not a critical loss. "It is significant money but what I was saying is we have ways to mitigate that decrease in funding."

School board member Michelle Asadoorian says the loss is not something to be taken lightly. "Any dollar is significant, and $2.2 million is a hefty price to pay."

Asadoorian is also disappointed the district applied to be in this program then failed to deliver. "Well obviously it's tied to student performance and obviously that falls. From where I sit we owe those communities an apology we let those children down."

But Hanson notes the program is still going in 14 other Fresno Unified schools, and adds other districts around the state have also had trouble making it work. "We've lost funding but we are holding onto the funding at a greater rate than is happening across the state and I think it goes to the complexity and the lack of thought that went into spending this money wisely."

However, Asadoorian says the public and her fellow school board members need to hold Hanson accountable. "He's our highest paid professional staff and it's up to the board of education. The community has put us there put faith in the seven of us and I would hope they along with the board would start asking questions."

Hanson says the teachers affected by the cutback will not be laid off but moved to other schools.

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