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Gov. drops $1.16 million school district fine

David Scharfenberg
Tuesday October 01, 2002

As expected, Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation Sunday forgiving a $1.16 million fine the Berkeley Unified School District owed the state for filing late paperwork in 1999. 

The legislation, sponsored by state Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, D-Berkeley, pours the money into consulting services and reform efforts within the district. 

The law ships $700,000 of the $1.16 million to the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance team, a state-sponsored fiscal adviser that has been working with Berkeley Unified for almost a year. 

FCMAT must use the money to develop a five-year district improvement plan by July 2003 covering several areas: instruction, financial management, facilities management, personnel management and community relations. 

The district must use the remaining $460,000 to implement reforms, with FCMAT providing a report on implementation by June 2005. 

The late paperwork was a staff development form. District officials have acknowledged negligence in failing to meet an October 1999 deadline to file the document, but have argued that the $1.16 million fine was draconian.