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County weighs spending $375,000 on education

By BRETT WILKISON

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today  is to consider recommendations to allocate $375,000 for a trio of mentoring, career training and scholarship programs to benefit elementary to high school-aged youths.

Supporters say the new and expanded programs are needed to provide a clearer path to post-secondary education, especially for disadvantaged students, and to prepare future workers for jobs in growing industries.

“We know that an educated workforce will be a stronger contributor to the economic, social and cultural health of our communities,” said Supervisor Mike McGuire, who together with Supervisor Efren Carrillo recommended the initiatives to the full board.

The initiatives would join a number of other county-financed efforts to promote workforce training and economic development.

The largest package, also spearheaded by McGuire and Carrillo and approved by the board in 2011, called for a $600,000 annual allocation over five years for programs to retain current companies and recruit new ones, guide businesses over regulatory hurdles and create industry clusters around health care, biotechnology, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.

The new measures would extend those efforts to the next generation of workers, or what Carrillo called “our principal asset: Our children and youth.”

Fiscal watchdogs so far have been silent on the proposal, although they criticized previous efforts as government overreach that duplicated other public or private-sector ventures. Some of those ventures have failed to hit their job creation targets, critics said.

The new funding would come from the same principal source for the existing county initiatives: A tourism and advertising account supported by hotel bed taxes, which last fiscal year amounted to about $8.7 million.

The bulk of the new spending — $255,000 — would take place over five years and would be focused on developing three new career training courses for local high schools emphasizing career paths in science, engineering and technology.

They would be developed by the county Office of Education, where previous state cuts have curtailed the launch of such initiatives, said Stephen Jackson, the office’s director of career development and workforce preparation.

With private money, the office plans to develop two more courses and offer programs in agriculture, hospitality and culinary training as well as workplace mentoring and internship positions.

The next largest sum, $100,000, would boost a new local scholarship program overseen by the Community Foundation of Sonoma County to support lower income students enrolling in training schools, junior colleges and four-year universities.

County figures show that only 43 percent of high school graduates continue with post-secondary education. Less than a quarter of low-income students complete their degrees, with only a 3 percent graduation rate among the extremely poor, a pair of local and national studies found.

Scholarship Sonoma County, the Community Foundation effort still in its first year, would aim to improve those rates by providing 1,500 scholarships over the next four years. College counseling, financial aid help and other outreach would also be offered through a partnership with the San Rafael-based nonprofit 10,000 Degrees.

The remaining $20,000 would go toward expansion of a United Way mentoring program that aims to improve literacy, starting with students in kindergarten.

Carrillo, who volunteers with the program in Roseland classrooms, called it a “game changer” improving students’ chance for success.

Although not called out in their proposal, Carrillo and McGuire said the board is likely to require an annual report to measure results for each of the new efforts.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.





5 Responses to “County weighs spending $375,000 on education”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Snarky: The “Bicycle Obelisc” is at the end of my property on S.R. Ave..
    The city passed an ordinance that calls for any commercial remodel/construction over $500.K having to “donate” 2% of the project cost to “public art”.
    With knowledge that I wanted to purchase the “tip” Josh Mareska right of way agent for the city sold the tip to my neighbor. Preventing our expansion and the additional tax revenue that the frontage would have created. I was going to fund an attractive hardscape at the site, something a little more in scale, appropriate and attractive.
    Imagine my surprize when the artist walked up one day garden hose in hand requesting the use of our water for the concrete.
    The gifting of A St. to Kia, reducing our access to an easement held by them without any compensation is another property rights story for another day. Possibly in front of a judge.
    http://www.watchsonomacounty.com/2012/03/cities/santa-rosa-sells-sculpture-site/

    All of this globalist influence in our community transforms everything; from property rights and small business ideology to our school ciriculum as well. Dumbing them down, teaching them “collective” socialist principles, Gaia is God, subverting INDIVIDUAL emphasis. Employing computers to teach their propaganda and having it graded off shore! Often shutting out the teachers and even the parents from the process. Teachers that don’t go along are often fired. It’s called Commoncore.

    At their core, children are anything but common. Unique, special, with infinite possibility.

    However globalists want to create dumbed down serfs that obey and can’t think for themselves.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  2. Snarky says:

    Jim,

    Speaking of “sculptures,” ya notice that tall thingy on northern Santa Rosa Ave made of old bicycles?

    It was a clever idea.. but the public taxpayer dollars were used to purchase it and, of course, nobody bothered to ASK the seller if it had been rust proofed.

    The city continues to paint over the running rust down its base with gray paint. It will become a fall hazard in not too long. And, so goes our public money. The government employee who authorized the purchase will not be held accountable, either.

    Speaking of accountability:

    What is happening to that Santa Rosa Junior College cop who is being prosecuted right now for theft of public funds over a years long period of time ???

    Ya notice the Press Democrat hasn’t run but one TINY photo of the man ?

    Oh, and what about the “police chief” involved? He gets to keep his public employee job despite the thefts of cash going on right under his lazy nose, right?

    Ahhhhhhh. Sonoma County. Land of the corrupt.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. JIM says:

    They cant figure out if they need to spend money on schools but they can approve some new art sculpture in downtown without batting an eye….PATHETIC….WASTE MORE MONEY AND TIME……GIVE YOUR JOBS TO JUNIOR HIGH KIDS THEY WILL BE MORE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  4. Fiscal Conservative says:

    This is great. If we can teach kids to count to $1.5 Billion and then divide this amount by the number if citizens in Sonoma County, then they will be able to understand unsustainible defined benefit County pensions.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. The Hammer says:

    Fix the roads!

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

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