Understanding school grants in spite of budget cuts | TheUnion.com

Understanding school grants in spite of budget cuts

It has been no secret that the schools in Nevada County are facing continued budget cuts due to declining enrollment. Some districts, such as the Nevada Joint Union High School District, are once again facing a reduction of services. Given this reality, it can be confusing for parents to understand the rather large amounts of money coming to the high school district in the form of one-time, and some on-going, grants from the California Department of Education, totaling an amazing $1.3 Million.

Some grants have appeared controversial, so I would like to take this opportunity to explain the larger grants and hopefully clear up the misunderstandings. Two grants that seem to be the items of greatest interest and confusion are the Arts, Music and Physical Education (not athletics) grants. Our district received a one-time grant for $293,700 for Arts, Music and Physical Education classes. The intent of the funding was to provide one time supplemental materials and supplies. At the same time our district received an on-going, or yearly block grant, of $81,882 for supplemental materials and supplies for Art and Music Programs.

These grants were divided proportionately between the sites based on student population. Each site then divided the money proportionately based on enrollment in the programs over two years. For example, Nevada Union received $181,308 from the one-time PE/Arts/Music grant and receives $37,534 every year for the Arts & Music grant. The total over two years is $256,376. To be fair and equitable, this was divided equally (over two years) to enhance all programs. This means that after two years the physical education programs will receive $114,259 and the Arts & Music programs will receive $139,799. After two years, the Arts & Music programs will continue to receive $37,534 every year as long as the Governor funds the grants.

Lastly, the district received other grants as targeted support for the high school exit exam, career tech equipment, instructional materials and funding for bi-lingual instruction. It is often difficult for parents and the community to understand the limited revenues with declining enrollment and, at the same time, to feel assured that special grants go to each program equally. Often these grants come with specific requirements for spending and the district office works diligently to abide by all regulations while at the same time enhancing the targeted programs. During difficult budget reductions, our district has never reduced arts or music programs. Research shows a direct correlation between artistic talents and academic success.

My office has received numerous queries about the money for arts versus physical education (not athletics). I hope this clarifies these grants. I am always appreciative of the community’s concerns, support and involvement in our programs.

Maggie Deetz is the superintendent of the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

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