By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Proposed state budget takes aim at FFA and other career programs
CA budget FFA
Pitman High FFA students implore the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees to increase the number of FFA advisors at their school. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal

A proposed budget put forth by California Governor Jerry Brown has instructors and students involved in Career Technical Education programs worried.

For more than a decade, SB 1070 has allocated an annual amount of $48 million to be divided between the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Department of Education, with the CCCCO retaining $33 million and the CDE receiving the remaining $15 million each year.

Brown’s proposed 2017-18 budget would put a stop to that split, however, and allocate the entire $48 million to the CCCCO, effectively defunding the CTE programs supported by the CDE.

Perhaps the biggest program under fire is the Future Farmers of America and other agricultural education.

“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Brown has proposed eliminating Career Technical Student Organizations like the Future Farmers of America and other CTE funding in California,” Executive Director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Jim Aschwanden said. “CTE programs remain vitally important to the economic well-being of our state, and this proposal eliminates highly effective programs that have proven their worth over time.  We think this is a terrible mistake.”

 “We’re worried about what will happen to our programs if it does happen, which is why we’re telling the public about it,” Turlock High’s Lead FFA Advisor Randee Vitorino said.

For FFA specifically, the proposed halt in funding would limit and potentially put a stop to travel for leadership conferences and events such as the State FFA Convention. But perhaps the biggest danger in the minds of Vitorino and her FFA colleagues is the halt to curriculum growth that would result from the passage of Governor Brown’s proposed budget.

“FFA has grown tremendously from when I was in high school,” Vitorino said. “Now a days students are given more hands on opportunities that are right in line with what’s going on in the industry and this benefits them greatly for whatever career field they’re going into.

“We’d still have those classes, but growing them to the next level and getting more classes approved would be eliminated.”

While Turlock High is hoping to maintain and grow its program, a group of Pitman High FFA students addressed the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees Tuesday night in an effort to rebuild the school’s diminished program.

A handful of students spoke out about the Pitman High dropping the number of advisors from three to two this year and the inequality of Turlock High having five advisors to Pitman’s two. The loss of an advisor resulted in the elimination of a number of Pitman ag classes and competition for the remaining courses available.

“Kids experience things in FFA they never would otherwise,” said Pitman FFA student Hailey Atwood.

In addition to impacting FFA programs and Agriculture Education, the proposed budget would also affect in-class instruction for areas such as Business and Marketing, Health Careers Education, Home Economics and Work Experience Education. Lack of funding for CTE programs would also affect clubs such as the Future Business Leaders of America as well as programs aimed to prepare and develop CTE instructors.

— Journal editor Kristina Hacker contributed to this report.