Early election results show local and state appetite to invest in youth

The results of the first elections show a clear trend: voters want more investment in youth programs and education, in Sacramento and California.

Although it will be weeks before we know the final results, Sacramento Measure Lwhich would create a children’s fund for programs aimed at young people under the age of 25, has a strong lead at the start from November 9. And the Associated Press called the race for California Proposal 28which will set aside 1% of the state budget to fund K-12 arts and music education statewide.

Proponents who have lobbied for Measure L and Proposition 28 say passing them would be a good first step in closing gaps in equity and resources for young people – but there is still work to be done, especially with the implementation.

Monica Ruelas Mares, organizer of the SacKidsFirst coalition, said a key part of implementing Measure L is her nine-person community oversight committee, which will work with the city’s youth advisory board to make recommendations on how the city should spend the Sacramento Children’s Fund. . Ultimately, however, the city council will decide how to spend the roughly $10 million each year.

For Ruelas Mares, defending the voices of young people in the oversight committee is crucial for a successful and continuous investment in young people.

“Having youth participation and engagement, not just at the end, but every step of the way, is what SacKidsFirst is going to push for,” they said. “The kids in Sacramento…they’re the ones who know the solutions, because they’re the closest to what they’re dealing with.”

Although the distribution of the money is at the discretion of the council, Measure the L The newly created Sacramento Children’s Fund is to go to “positive youth development and violence prevention programs” if passed.

For Leo Hsu, chair of the Sacramento Youth Advisory Board and an 11th grader at West Campus High School, that means investing in “helping disadvantaged communities, especially those heavily impacted by the use of violence.” , youth substance abuse, youth homelessness”.

Hsu added that he hopes the funding from Measure L — and the young people leading the way in allocating the money — will help “improve these programs for the people who will use them and who are like us.”

A municipal funding stream dedicated to youth programs is not a new idea in the state – Oakland and Richmond both have funds earmarked to support youth services, with Oakland implementing the idea in 1996.

But this is the third time Sacramento voters have been asked if they support a Sacramento Children’s Fund, after Measure Y in 2016 – which was narrowly beaten – and G-measurement in 2020.

Its success this time around, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said at City Hall Wednesday afternoon, means “people want a city that’s for and about young people.”

Meanwhile, Proposition 28 will provide more funding for Title 1 schoolswhere at least 40% of enrollment are low-income students.

In Sacramento County, approximately 55% of K-12 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the 2021-22 school year; 11 of the county’s 14 public school districts had at least 40% of their enrollment meet this qualification.

Allison Cagley, founding director of Friends of Sacramento Arts, says the dedicated funding stream created by Proposition 28 will help ensure equity in “access to arts education.”

“Some [schools] who have higher socio-economic demographics, they might have more active parental involvement – ​​and often, in schools that have higher resources, parent involvement groups will actually supplement funding for art teachers and artistic expressions and artistic enrichment in schools,” she says. “You go to a Title 1 school, and they don’t necessarily have the same resources.”

Friends of Sacramento Arts was founded in 2019 to help fill that gap and ensure arts education is “every day for every child in every school” in California, Cagley said. She says she also hopes that the motion’s passage will also help highlight the benefits of arts education.

“The arts need to be part of the daily schedule and not just ‘a fun thing to have’ which is sometimes the first thing cut from the budget because it’s not directly linked to some of the other budget areas,” she said. declared.

School districts that receive additional funding due to Title 1 schools in their district are required to use 80% of that additional funding to hire arts and music education teachers in order to continue to receive funding.

The results of the election will be certified by the State by December 16.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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