The U.S. Department of Agriculture rates California as the number one producer of agriculture in the country. Now, however, agriculture departments in school districts across California face funding cuts in the next school year, and educators warn students will suffer because of it.
"Although I think our classes will still exist and we do have a supportive community, without the funding, it's just going to be a different picture that we're looking at," said Lindsey Kleiner, an Agriculture Education Instructor with Fortuna City Schools.
Agriculture teachers and department heads from Humboldt and Del Norte Counties met in Eureka Tuesday night to discuss the proposed cut of the Agriculture Incentive Grant. The governor’s announcement of the proposed budget more than a week ago includes an end to the grant starting next school year. The state has given the Agriculture Incentive Grant to California schools who have met certain agriculture curriculum standards since 1983. Now educators say without the grant, many of the wide variety of programs in agriculture departments are in jeopardy.
"We won't have the money that we need to run our programs. We rely on our grants to fund our programs. The districts can really not provide the funds that it takes to run our classes. Some of our classes are career technical education classes such as shop, Ag welding, and mechanics and power mechanics, and we just will not have the funds to run those," said Sandy Lovfald, an Agriculture Education Instructor with Eureka City Schools.
The legislature is expected to approve the proposed budget in June.