Valley educators celebrate Prop 30 passage

FRESNO, Calif.

54 percent of voters voted "yes" in support of Governor Jerry Brown's sales and income tax increase to prevent six billion dollars in cuts to education.

For Fresno State it means the budget will remain flat for the remainder of the year, but state funding is still about $1 billion less than it was several years ago.

At Fresno Unified it means administrators can implement their Plan B, a plan it put together several months ago if prop 30 were to pass.

"I am pleased the State of California is reinvesting in higher education, it certainly has been a rough four years," Fresno State President John Welty said.

Welty said the decision by the California State University to open a polling place on campus helped the proposition's passage as more than 1,000 registered voters cast their ballots, dropped off mail-in ballots or voted provisionally.

"It was very successful, especially when you look at the polling and the demographics, this was overwhelmingly supported by 18-30 year old voters. That's what really pushed it over the edge," ASI Vice President Sean Kiernan said.

Precint 185 in the Satellite Union was coordinated by the Associated Students Inc. and was approved by the Fresno County Elections Office, but the ASI said its work begain weeks ago when the initiative was placed on the ballot.

Kiernan said students at Fresno State and all over California worked tirelessly to educate others about the impacts of the measure. Many of them said a lot was at stake.

"To be honest Prop 30 was very important to me. It's going to be tough for all students with tuition going up if it doesn't pass," Fresno State student Robert Saephanh said.

Now that it has passed, President Welty said the CSU will avoid a $250 million mid-year budget cut. That means Fresno State won't have to reduce enrollment, cut course offerings or raise tuition next year. It also means students will get a $249 per semester refund for the fee increase already in place.

"That's a big relief. If that $249 is refunded back to me, that can be used towards my books and everything for next semester and it's going to help me a lot because I am struggling as it is already," Saephanh said.

Fresno Unified also has reason to celebrate.

"Proposition 30 translates into, for Fresno Unified, to about $29 million," Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said.

$17.5 million of that is additional resources for the district.

With the passage of Prop 30, Hansan said FUSD can now invest $7.4 million dollars to expand preschool participation district wide, $4.4 million to add a seventh period in middle schools and offer more language arts courses, electives and career-technical education. He said, it also allows the district to invest $2 million to bring music programs and band equipment to all k-8 schools.

Those are plans the district said will increase literacy by the third grade and improve graduation rates at schools throughout the district.

"That is dramatic news for Fresno," said Hanson. "We could not be more thrilled at Fresno Unified that a couple of things have happened in the last week that are completely, not just aligned with, but defined by the Fresno community's agenda for youth."

He said, a portion of the money will also be used to support transportation and reduce the walking distance for middle and high school students. Another $450,000, he said, will go towards increasing the number of Nationally Board Certified teachers from 5 to about 150.

Deputy Superintendent Ruth Quinto said the work will begin today and the district will put the programs in place as soon as possible.

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