Education

Fresno Unified will maintain after-school programs threatened by Trump’s budget

Sunnyside High School students help plant a garden at Ayer Elementary School. Sunnyside is one of the schools that benefit from academic-enrichment programs that receive federal funds that are threatened to disappear under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. But Fresno Unified officials say those programs will go untouched.
Sunnyside High School students help plant a garden at Ayer Elementary School. Sunnyside is one of the schools that benefit from academic-enrichment programs that receive federal funds that are threatened to disappear under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. But Fresno Unified officials say those programs will go untouched. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Fresno Unified will maintain its after-school programs and other federally funded resources threatened by President Donald Trump’s proposed budget regardless of what happens in the White House.

While Trump wants to eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which annually contributes $825,000 to create after-school programs at five Fresno Unified schools, FUSD Chief Financial Officer Ruthie Quinto says those programs will go untouched.

“Fresno Unified will continue to maintain our current programs despite any potential federal funding cuts,” Quinto said. “These programs are important for Fresno Unified. They are priority. Even if there’s a reduction, we will just fund them with a different funding source.”

The schools that benefit from those academic-enrichment programs are Sunnyside, McLane, Fresno and Roosevelt high schools and Yosemite Middle School. But according to Trump’s budget plan, the Community Learning Centers program “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

Fresno Unified will continue to maintain our current programs despite any potential federal funding cuts.

Fresno Unified CFO Ruthie Quinto

Other districts across California likely will not be able to save the programs. Statewide, districts receive about $113 million annually for the after-school programs.

Earlier this year, the California Department of Education advised Fresno Unified – the state’s fourth-largest school district – to prepare for about $6 million in cuts to Title I and Title II programs, which aim to improve academic achievement for low-income students and support teacher training.

Fresno Unified has braced for those cuts too – tapping its reserves in the district’s $889 million budget to fund any gaps that would be left without federal support.

“It’s not that these federal cuts are not impacting school districts, it’s that our school district has some fairly excellent budgeting and careful maintaining of our reserves and that’s why we’re able to do this,” said Tammy Townsend, who oversees Fresno Unified’s state and federal programs. “We are in the situation that we’re in because of our careful budgeting. Not every school district across the state would be able to say they’re not going to have to cut programs because of these federal cuts.”

Fresno’s college community has also voiced concerns about proposed cuts to the federal budget. Thousands of Fresno high school and college students benefit from federal programs such as Upward Bound that could be downsized or eliminated under Trump’s budget.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays

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