Though the numbers are grim, perhaps the tide is beginning to turn. A bright spot: on Friday May 22nd, the 52nd Annual Commencement ceremony at Merced College took place and of the 1,180 degrees and certificate awarded, a majority went to Latinos.
Calling it one of the “best” budgets the state has ever had, California Gov. Jerry Brown said the $167.6 billion dollar budget the legislature passed Tuesday would pump more money into child care and education, pay down the state’s debt by $1.9 billion and provide health care for its undocumented children.
When I was a kid, I remember the centers at McNamara and Stephan Leonard parks being the heart and life of the community. The Mac was so beautiful. I swam in the pool, watched my mom play softball and spent my weekends there. I remember the Mac center being staffed by Parks and Recreation workers.
As Merced schools lie within one of the poorest counties in the state, many students fit within one or more of the groups eligible for additional funding under LCFF. According to Kidsdata.org, 79% of students in Merced County are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, available for children whose family’s income is 185% or less of the federal poverty line, or about $44,000 for a family of four in 2013-2014.
Now youth advocates are pushing the City Council to invest $29,000 in the Mac’s operating budget to close some of the gaps and pay for a part-time staff member to ensure consistent programming. On May 27, supporters held a rally in front of the youth center, urging community members to #BackTheMac.