Madera Unified receiving $17 million, working on student programs

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Millions of dollars will soon be coming to a North Valley school district and now officials need help figuring out what to do with it.

Madera Unified School District is expecting to receive $17 million next school year, as part of California's local control funding plan. Now, administrators are working on developing programs and finding new ways to help the students who need it most.

Already, primary literacy support specialists help young students at Madera's elementary schools. The extra help is part of a new program funded by the state's new local control funding formula, which gives more money over eight years to schools that have students who are low income, English learners and in foster care.

For Madera Unified, 90 percent of its students fall into that category. Superintendent Ed Gonzales said, "Those students have additional challenges so it makes sense to have additional monies to support those kids."

Gonzales says some new programs could include more arts and music classes, after school programs and improving the current curriculum. Gonzales said, "The money does provide us with opportunities to be creative, instead of always being in survival mode."

Madera Unified will be asking parents and community members for ideas on how to spend the new money during a series of meetings.

Ana Mendoza, a parent who volunteers at Sierra Vista Elementary School where her two children attend, plans on speaking up at the meetings. Mendoza said, "I'm hoping we will bring back having teacher assistants in the classroom. Right now, when I volunteer it seems like it's a lot of kids for just one teacher."

Mendoza also wants more specialized programs for accelerated students plus increased resources for parents. She hopes a lot of people will attend the meetings and get involved. Mendoza said, "This is the time when the district is actually asking us, 'Where do we want the funds to go?' And I think I strongly believe if we're here and voice our opinions as to what our children need, then they're more likely to follow through."

Madera Unified School District is expecting at least 100 parents to attend Wednesday night's meeting. It will be held at Sierra Vista Elementary School at 5:30 p.m.

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