Local school districts with large numbers of poor and minority students are deciding how to spend their share of $83 million in unanticipated state aid.
The money, known as Urban Impact Aid, was cut from the state education budget in July by Gov. George Deukmejian. The state Legislature restored the allocation and the governor signed that bill last month.
A dozen districts in the San Gabriel Valley, including the Pasadena and Pomona unified school districts, will receive funds.
Under the measure, districts throughout the state will also receive $10.4 million in so-called Meade Aid, also designed to help schools with many poor and minority students.
According to a spokesman for the State Department of Education, Urban Impact Aid is designed to help city school districts defray some of the higher costs associated with urban education.
"Urban, low-income, high-minority districts inevitably have greater costs for education," the state official said.
Real estate is one example. "The cost of adding just one classroom in an urban district can be more than the cost of acquiring the land for an entire high school in Lassen County," the official said. Urban real estate can cost $1 million an acre, while undeveloped land in rural districts may cost only $10,000 an acre, he estimated.
In contrast to some state funds, school districts may spend Urban Impact Aid as they see fit. Local school officials said they already have plans for using the money.
"We try to use the money for things that are unique to an urban school district," said Richard Donoghue, assistant superintendent for business for the Pomona Unified School District. Pomona will receive $1 million, a small increase over last year's allocation. Donoghue said the money would be used for security, an anti-gang counselor and a graffiti-removal program, among other things.
Pasadena Unified, which will receive almost $1 million, is one of many school districts that will receive 10% less than last year because the funding is being extended to several additional districts statewide. Meade Aid allocations are the same as last year.
Pasadena school official Robert A. Sampieri observed that this year's aid "is a little less than we had before, but it's a lot better than zero." Sampieri, the district's deputy superintendent for personnel and business, said most of the money will go into the district's reserve fund.
The state money will also pay for such activities as a math field day and an academic decathlon, Sampieri said.
Andrew J. Viscovich, superintendent of the Garvey School District, said his district would use its grant of almost $312,000 "just as we have in the past: It will become part of our compensatory education budget."
Among the programs to be funded, Viscovich cited bilingual classes for Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese speakers. The money will also help provide classroom materials for students with special language needs, he said.
Garvey will receive almost as much as it did last year. But Viscovich noted that the district's expenses rise each year.