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Funds to Reduce Class Size

November 11, 1996

* I wholeheartedly agree with your Oct. 25 editorial ("Issue Is With the Legislature as Schools Face Hard Reality") that the Legislature needs to provide additional funding for school facilities to reduce class size, as well as to meet the needs of our growing student population. From the outset I advocated for at least a $1-billion plan for school facilities to fully implement class-size reduction, on top of the $200 million we fought for in this year's budget. I also fought to add $400 million for class-size reduction to a bond measure for the November ballot. I now intend to bring together developers and school district representatives to hammer out an agreement that will help put a much-needed bond before the voters.

In many instances, schools are in the difficult position of trying to reduce class size without having the facilities to do so. We still need to provide at least $151 million to fund the remaining 75% of second-grade requests and some of the third-grade and kindergarten applications. While 20% of eligible districts initially did not file applications to reduce class size, we anticipate that many of these districts will still do so, and many of the districts currently implementing class-size reduction will want to expand this program to other grades.

Over a year ago, I began calling for class-size reduction in the early elementary grades. Clearly, it would have been easier to implement this program if the governor and the Legislature had joined our effort at that time. Nevertheless, despite the very tight timetable we were able to get the program off the ground in record time.

Regardless of the need for facilities, enthusiasm for this class-size reduction program remains high. School districts have done a tremendous job of meeting the challenge to reduce class size.

DELAINE EASTIN

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sacramento

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