Schools to get a bit more spending money

Break out the wish list: Butte County schools’ share in state school improvement block grants will reach $1.38 million, it was announced last week. Gov. Gray Davis is sending along $245 million to schools statewide, which can use the one-time money for safety equipment, upgrades to heating, air-conditioning or electrical systems, improving libraries, buying computers, installing wiring to support technology and teaching school employees how to use new technology.

Jane Dolan, who represents Chico on the Butte County Board of Supervisors, stated in a press release, “Given the recent shooting in San Diego County, we all have an increased awareness of the need to provide safe schools for our children. This funding release is good timing.”

The Chico Unified School District alone will get $535,193 (not counting $8,275 to the charter, Chico Country Day School). Scott Schofield, president of the CUSD Board of Trustees, said the district would be happy to get the money—even though it’s restricted and somewhat politically motivated. “It would be nice if they just gave you all this money and let you decide how to spend it,” he said. Still, Schofield said, the list of things schools can spend the money on seems “pretty broad. I’m sure we’ll find good use for it."Department of Fish and Game Warden Will Bishop concluded this week that it was, as he had suspected, the state Department of Water Resources that performed what he termed an illegal grading project along Big Chico Creek near Bidwell Avenue in recent weeks. But that’s all he’d say about the project, which heavily damaged the creek bank and upset neighbors.

“I’ve told you what I can tell you,” Bishop said. “I’m just supposed to say ‘no comment’ now.” From the looks of it, both departments are ferreting out just exactly who is responsible for giving the project the green light. The work scarred the muddy ground with deep tracks from a tractor, caused a 10-foot chunk of soil to wash down the river and ripped a laurel tree from the soft creek bank. It angered Big Chico Creek Watershed Alliance Coordinator Suzanne Gibbs, who declared last week that whoever was responsible for the project “should somehow make it better.”