Students at /*Thomas Elementary School*/ in Northeast Fresno are getting a jumpstart on their educational careers. "He should have been going into Kindergarten this year and he would have been fine. But we didn't want fine. We wanted him to be confident," said Amber Flores. Flores' 5-year-old has been participating in Transitional Kindergarten -- a new grade level designed to better prepare low-income students before they enter traditional Kindergarten.
/*Gov. Jerry Brown*/ has proposed eliminating the program to save money but Fresno Unified officials say they have enough money to keep it running. "Because of the decisions that we've made, we are prepared for the downturn in the budget, we are prepared for just about anything the legislature might throw at us," said Janet Ryan, a Fresno Unified Trustee.
The school board's confidence stems from a strong reserve fund built by reducing their budget by about $100 million over the past several years. "We have redirected funds while we were shrinking budgets and we have more than doubled our summer school participation and targeted those resources to keep students on target and back on track for graduation," said FUSD's Superintendent /*Michael Hanson*/. Hanson says the district will not have to layoff or furlough any teachers next year. He's hopeful the district will not have to rely on money from Gov. Brown's proposed tax-hike.
"As we complete the budget development process and the board adopts a budget in June based on the current level of resources, then we'll immediately begin planning for the possibility that we can have additional resources after the November election," said /*Ruthie Quinto*/, FUSD's Chief Financial Officer.
For now, school officials say they continue to focus resources on programs they believe will help students succeed, like Transitional Kindergarten. "I'm glad that they were able to look at the budget and be able to get some early education things in," said Flores.