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Las Juntas Elementary receives funding infusion

District matches grant


By DONNA BETH WEILENMAN

Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Las Juntas Elementary School could get more than a new track as the result of a decision Monday by the Martinez Unified School District Board of Education to match a $400,000 Measure WW grant with $200,000 of its own money.

Some members gulped at the size of the match and worried their decision was being required too quickly until Chairperson John Fuller reminded the panel that in April, it earmarked $175,000 in Measure K funds to address the school’s track.

District Superintendent Rami Muth said she had spoken with Contra Costa County District V Supervisor Federal Glover, who said of the $600,000 in Measure WW recreation bond money he was authorized to offer, he had $400,000 available for the school district if it could come up with a $200,000 match. He asked for the district’s response before the end of the week.

“Federal Glover has only $600,000 to give,” Elsken said. “We’re getting the bulk of his money.”

Ultimately, the panel gave its unanimous vote to match the grant with the Measure K money and up to $25,000 in other funds, but urged Muth to negotiate for a lower matching amount if Glover would agree.

Board members also heard a report by Kathy Farwell, director of Martinez Adult Education, who explained changes in state funding that impact adult school programs, including those for parents of younger children.

The school already dropped its “Tot Time” class, for parents of toddlers, for lack of space, Farwell said. The Secret Garden class has merged with the Growing Garden for parents and preschoolers.

Because of changes in state funding, the Growing Garden class must generate enough tuition to pay its own way. That could mean a jump in tuition from $465 to $704 for each of the three sessions slated for the year, Farwell said.

Other leisure and personal enrichment classes also must be self-supporting, she said.

Recent legislation refocused adult education’s emphasis on preparing students for college without the need for remedial training, educating speakers of language other than English, gaps in education, job re-entry and technical education, Farwell said.

“I love the preschool,” Elsken said. “I’d like to see it grow.” She suggested that in the future, California would require such parent co-op classes that provide an affordable type of preschool.

Boardmember Kathi McLaughlin agreed, but said the district might be able to collaborate with the city of Martinez on a program.

In other matters, the panel approved making emergency repairs to John Swett Elementary School after a broken irrigation mainline took out 75 feet of chain link fence, a tree and other vegetation on the bank of Alhambra Creek. Cost is expected to be $40,000.

The panel also agreed to changes to a proposal to build a new modular classroom at Vicente Martinez High School and Briones School so it can be resubmitted to the Division of the State Architect, which rejected the earlier plan.

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