The three-county consortium that runs migrant education programs in the Merced area stands to lose $368,030 from federal funding cuts, its director said.
Ruben Patron, Region 3 director for Merced, Madera and Stanislaus counties, said about a 5 percent cut is expected. He has not received information about specifics of the federal cuts that went into effect in March.
The migrant education program serves 2,644 students in Merced County, 3,441 students in Stanislaus County and 1,414 in Madera County, a drop of 1,835 students over the previous fiscal year. The program's 2012-13 school year budget was $6,943,968, according to Patron.
The effects of federal sequestration budget reductions, program model changes and reduced enrollment of migrant students will result in a combination of layoffs and reduced hours of instructional, support services and management staff in the three-county region, Patron said.
Steven Gomes, Merced County superintendent of schools, is not pleased with the cuts.
"While there is definitely a need to balance the federal budget, doing so by cutting funds to migrant education seems counterintuitive," Gomes said. "It underscores the inability of Congress to prioritize our country's needs."
Kathy Pon, assistant superintendent of instructional services for the Merced County Office of Education, which oversees the migrant education program, outlined the expected changes.
"Due to programmatic changes instituted by the Department of Education, migrant education is moving from a paraprofessional to certificated teacher support model in our preschool and secondary programs," Pon said. "Due to declining enrollment of migrant students, there are several school support liaison positions that will be reduced in Stanislaus and Merced counties."
Migrant students range from 3 to 21 years of age. The migrant program provides instructional and support services to
32 school districts in the three-county region, through a district service agreement, including 15 districts in Merced County.
To qualify for the program, a migrant child must have moved within the past three years across state or school district lines, with parents or guardians who have temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural, fishing or food processing jobs.
The migrant program's purpose is to help students obtain a quality education. Low socio-economic status, linguistic-cultural differences and disrupted education put migrant children in a vulnerable position for achieving academic success, Patron said.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.