As construction on the new Office and Science building at the South end of the high school is under completion the question arises, how much does it cost and will this affect the daily lives of students? I held an interview of our Principal Mrs. Pam Sellick and she discussed how the construction of this new building will conclude by April of 2019. To add, I also interviewed Superintendent Robert Frausto and he revealed how the state would pay for 40% of the construction project while the district would have to pay for the remaining 60% of the $21 million building. But, the state is not supplying and cannot supply money at this time as they haven’t sold any facilities bonds which is accumulated money that goes towards projects such as this construction project, therefore the Kerman Unified School District has to ultimately pay for the entire building by itself if there are no state funds to support the construction. Once this building is completed, plans have been made to relocate the district office across Highway 180 and build, “…a CTE building, which is the auto shop and building construction.” according to Principal Sellick. A long-term goal of the Superintendent is to build a new elementary school behind Garcia’s Market as he, on behalf of the district, has already bought the land behind the grocery store. He explicitly expressed the need for this as he stated, “We are the fastest growing district in Fresno County…” Though, the dilemma that presents itself is that a new elementary school will cost approximately $40 million. Without state funds to support the construction of the new Office building, that project may have to wait a few years, time that space at our present elementary schools cannot endure.
Budgeting concerning the high school, classes, and clubs are even more complicated. The State of California distributes money across all counties to all high schools, and the amount each school receives is determined on factors such as the amount of socio-economically disadvantaged students attending such as English learners, homeless students, foster children, and others who fit in similar categories. In this current year, the 2018-2019 school year, Kerman High School has been granted somewhat over $1 million. This money is then channeled towards the three goals of Kerman High School’s Action Plan made for this year, 2018, until 2024. These goals are Academic Achievement & Effective Instruction and Leadership, Student Engagement & Facilities, and Parent & Community Engagement. In our interview, Mrs. Sellick explained how these work into the budget:
“So, it pays for…the English Learner teacher, it pays for Mr. Pacheco our Intervention Counselor, it pays for our Site Testing Coordinator, Mrs. Baskin because she does all the testing. It pays for some of our bilingual tutors and so on….So, each Department at the high school has $5,000 allotted to them to use for their budget….So, the Fine Arts Department gets $5,000, the English Department does, Science…we consider that we have 10 Departments, they all get $5,000. The only exception to that is FFA doesn’t necessarily need that much because they have their Grant [the Ag Incentive Grant]. So they get some but they don’t always, they don’t necessarily get $5,000.”
These 10 Departments include Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Foreign Language, Fine Arts, Math, English, Special Education, Agriculture, and ROP. Superintendent Frausto stressed the importance of our ROP Department as he said, “I think CTROP is really good because a lot of those kids, if, like say Auto Tech for example, if we didn’t have those programs some of those kids would drop out of school.” A problem stressed by Mrs. Sellick was the increasing need for technology in the classroom. The core subject departments, such as Science, Social Studies, Math, and English have a cart for every teacher while the Foreign Language, Fine Arts, Agriculture, and ROP departments each share a cart within their respective department for all teachers. Unfortunately, certain departments such as the Agricultural Department are running low on funding and their budget is not enough to sustain them as they have a growing student community. Many parents and adults in Kerman support the FFA, a national organization supported by agricultural departments throughout the state of California and across the United States of America, both states and territories. Lamentably, in my interview with Mrs. Sellick as I mentioned prior to this, she stated, “We consider that we have 10 departments, they all get $5,000. The only exception to that is FFA doesn’t necessarily need that much because they have their Grant.” The Ag Incentive Grant provided to the Department is not sufficient to support the needs and advancements that are necessary to keep this important Department and organization at Kerman High School running and thriving to its fullest potential, as many of its complementary departments are. As I have been told by several of the teachers who run the department and are in charge of Kerman High School’s Chapter in the FFA they need more funding as their Grant isn’t cutting it; their bills are rising and their classes are growing.
While this is an important problem, another problem our high school is facing with is modernizing and transitioning into the Technological Age. Mrs. Sellick is hoping for a cart of computers in every classroom within the near future so every student has access to a computer for classwork. Kerman High School and the Kerman Unified School District is upgrading and advancing towards a brighter future, though some setbacks are holding it back from its true potential. Within the next few years to the next decade, our school will become a modern, improved environment for students to enhance their learning ability and to strive towards “Achieving Excellence”.