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Manteca Unified could see school days added back

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POSTED January 14, 2013 1:12 a.m.

Manteca Unified could see some instructional days restored when the 2013-14 school year starts.

Superintendent Jason Messer said the school board should be in a position to restore some school days cut previously thanks to the state budget proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown released last week. Manteca was forced to cut school days from 180 to 170 to deal with decreased funding over the past several years. That reflected a 4 percent across the board pay cut for all school personnel.

Messer said he expects some of the days but not all to be restored.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Messer said.

Passage of Proposition 30 essentially assured the district would not receive additional cutbacks in state funding this year. It also helped shore up future funding.

Messer and district superintendents from throughout California are meeting in Sacramento this week for a more detailed briefing on the budget.

Spending on K-12 and two-year colleges would total $56.2 billion for 2013-14. That figure would return the state to nearly prerecession funding after a series of spending cuts. Of the additional amount allocated for the fiscal year starting July 1, the governor wants to use $1.8 billion to pay school districts what the state already owes them in late payments for previous years.

Besides restoring funds, Brown wants to drastically change the way the state distributes money to schools.

Preliminary indications are that Manteca will see an additional bump in funding if Brown’s plan to shift more resources to districts with a higher number of non-English speaking students as well as a higher concentration of socio-economic disadvantaged students.

The proposal retains the current system’s feature of awarding money based on attendance, but it would add up to 35 percent more based on the proportion of English learners, foster children and low-income students in each district.

Districts with more than half of their student population classifying as low-income, as measured by free or reduced price lunch participants, would receive additional funds in a poverty “concentration” grant.

The shift is sure to cause an outcry among wealthier school districts, but Brown framed it as an obligation to provide more help to low-income districts.

“Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont,” he said. “It is controversial, but it is right and it’s fair.”

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