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After two votes and weeks of battling over how to divvy up federal funding for economically disadvantaged students, the San Diego Unified school board voted unanimously tonight to keep dividing up the money the same way it has done for years.

The decision reversed two previous votes that changed the way the money was allocated.

Tonight’s vote means that schools where more than 40 percent of students qualify for free and reduced price lunches will continue to receive the money. They will get more or less money per student based on the percentage of impoverished children at the schools, with schools divided into three tiers based on their poverty level. Schools with the highest percentages of disadvantaged students will get more money per student than schools with lower percentages of students from poor families.

The San Diego Unified board initially voted this year to raise the poverty threshold for the funds to 60 percent, cutting off funds to dozens of schools with between 40 percent and 60 percent of poor students so that the highest poverty schools would get more money. It later changed course, lowering the threshold back to 40 percent and opted to give all schools the same amount per student. That meant that the highest poverty schools would receive a lower proportion of the funds than in years past.

Now the school board has again revisited the plan, voting unanimously to keep dividing the money as it has done in years past. Keeping the status quo was originally suggested by a parent committee charged with overseeing the funds. The question of how to allocate an expected influx of more than $37 million in such funds under the federal stimulus package will be posed as a separate decision to the school board.

EMILY ALPERT

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