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Teachers strive to do more with less at Visitacion Valley school

By Jane Xiao, New America Media/Sing Tao Daily

Jenny Trac runs the newcomer program at Visitacion Valley Middle School. Even though she is fluent in five languages and has 10 years of teaching experience, Trac worries that she could soon join the ranks of teachers targeted for a pink slip.

California's public schools have experienced deep cuts in funding since 2007-2008. San Francisco Unified School District, a district that serves around 55,000 students, saw its general operating funds drop by 10 percent since 2008-2009, even though there was an increase of 400 students in district enrollment.

Visitacion Valley Middle School is feeling the pain. According to the school district, the school's annual budget increased from $2.5 million last year to $2.8 million this year. But average spending per student actually fell by $750 due to a projected 20 percent increase in student enrollment. Located in the southeastern part of San Francisco, where housing is cheaper, the Visitacion Valley school serves largely low-income and immigrant -- primarily Asian -- students. More than 85 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

After coping with years of cuts, principal James Dierke says the strategy he follows is simple: Do more with less.

Read the complete story at New America Media.