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Knott's Promotion Won't Cost Schools, Official Says

May 08, 1999|SEEMA MEHTA and JACK LEONARD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

School officials concerned about losing state funding after massive truancy triggered by a Knott's Berry Farm promotion worried needlessly, state officials said Friday.

Many Orange and Los Angeles county school districts had high absenteeism Wednesday, when the amusement park teamed with KIIS-FM to offer admission for 5 cents on Cinco de Mayo. School financing is based on attendance figures. School officials had said they might ask Knott's to reimburse them.

But the state Department of Education considers attendance from July 1 to April 15, said John Gilroy, deputy general counsel for the agency, so schools are not likely to lose a dime. "School financing is very complicated," he said.

The theme park has agreed to reimburse Buena Park for extra police coverage, including officers in riot gear, required to break up a crowd that became unruly after the park filled to capacity at about 10 a.m. Fights broke out and traffic was blocked as about 4,000 youths denied entrance milled around outside the gates.

Jack Falfas, the park's general manager, will meet with police and city leaders Monday.

"My understanding is they formulate a report, and I believe we're going to review the whole incident," he said.

Falfas said he hopes to confer with school officials to discuss potential projects to reward students with strong school attendance. The park also is buying advertisements in today's newspapers as "an apology to everyone for underestimating the promotion," he said.

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