Go to a rural high school in Central California, and one of the most popular extra-curricular programs will be FFA – Future Farmers of America. But now the people who run those programs say their future is threatened in Governor Brown’s new budget.
It’s all part of a big change to the way school districts get their money from Sacramento – the Local Control Funding Formula. In general it’s been good news for schools up and down the valley, as it redirects more money to districts with high populations of low-income families, English learners and foster youth.
One of the ways it does that is by erasing dozens of different state specified funding categories, putting the choice of how to spend those funds in the hands of districts. But one of those categorical programs that would go away is a $4 million matching grant for ag education programs that supporters say is essential for their future.
Last week FFA students and leaders gathered in Sacramento to protest the proposed change at the annual Ag Day at the state Capitol. On Valley Edition, we talked with two local ag educators who are concerned about the future of their programs, and efforts in the Legislature to protect the grant:
- Ralph Mendes - Ag coordinator for the Kern High School District in Bakersfield
- Kevin Woodard - Ag instructor for Clovis East High School in Clovis