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Where ag project money is coming from
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I read Dennis Wyatt’s column (“Now that they’ve laid off 209 teachers, what is Manteca Unified doing next?” – Friday, June 26, 2009) and wanted to make you aware of the correct dollar amounts and restrictions to those dollars as I believe the premise of your opinion was based on some inaccurate information.  

The dollars to which you wrote -  $347,390 to go toward the ag classroom project - are not in fact entirely discretionary.  In fact these dollars represent the following:

•$95,000 from electrical work which was done for both the District Administration building and the farm.  These were restricted dollars and have already been expended but the state will allow us to match their grant with them.  We also installed an irrigation pump last year which was about $30,000.  This pump was paid for through the Farm Enterprise Account, the account which has and continues to be used to operate the farm.  The state will allow us to match the grant with those dollars as well.
•$70,000 is the cost of new pasture and fencing which is paid for in part by the School Farm Enterprise Account , and Lottery which was budgeted for the past two years.  

•Finally we will be matching the grant with one of our portables which is valued at $150,000 this portable will be paid for over 4 years by the Tinnin Road lease and the Verizon cell tower lease.  We will not be paying back the state but rather paying back ourselves.  The portable is one which would otherwise go unused, as we are moving one we already own and transferring the expenditure to this grant.  This project has been in the works for more than 24 months but was recently held up when the state had to wait back in December to issue bonds to secure the funding.  The Bonds have been issued and the funds have been secured.  If we were to pass on the funds that have already been allocated to us they would go back to the state to be re-awarded to another school district.  

I think your question “Is this really a necessary expenditure at this juncture in time even with how relatively little it takes to leverage the 4.6 million dollars?”  is a solid question.  However, the true amount of discretionary dollars available to the Board over the next four years is only the dollars generated from the Tinnin Road lease and the Verizon tower lease or about $30,000 per year.   Both of these leases named the farm as the beneficiary from the very start.