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The San Diego Unified school board decided tonight to push California legislators for total flexibility on earmarked state funding, with particular emphasis on freeing up the more than $23 million in annual funding that can only be spent on textbooks and other instructional materials. That flexibility would allow the school board to decide which of the earmarked funds — if any — to plumb and spend on other purposes, as I wrote about in my article published this afternoon.

“If we have that general flexibility, we have the control,” said school board member John Lee Evans.

Board members cautioned that pushing for flexibility did not mean that they would cut funding for the programs affected, including arts and music grants and funding to keep classes small. And while staffers have expressed hope that freeing up the funding would help San Diego Unified to survive the crisis, veteran school board member John de Beck was less optimistic about the move.

“I get to choose the menu of starvation,” he quipped.

EMILY ALPERT

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