Foothill’s AVID program faces financial difficulties from AB 1575


Melissa Marshall

Foothill's AVID program may be in financial trouble partly due to Assembly Bill 1575. Credit: Lauren Pedersen/The Foothill Dragon Press
Foothill’s AVID program may be in financial trouble partly due to Assembly Bill 1575. Credit: Lauren Pedersen/The Foothill Dragon Press

Foothill’s AVID program has been struggling with recent budget cuts, and now that state Assembly Bill 1575 has officially been signed, they are under increased financial pressure.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a national organization designed for students, many whom will be the first generation in their family to get a college education, to get extra help getting into college and successfully completing high school.

“It is the network that they need to be successful, the idea of giving them a group of people that have a common goal,” AVID instructor Jason Dinkler said. “Everybody has good and bad days and we all need people that support us, so it is also a support system.”

Assembly Bill 1575, which was inspired by a lawsuit brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010, states that schools are no longer allowed to ask for fees from students, whether this is for supplies or a field trip. {sidebar id=60}

The majority of trips that AVID students participate in are college tours across the state. The program manages to fundraise for most of the costs, but they do ask for donations for transportation.

“Without donations, we can’t pay for the buses,” senior Oscar Fergoso said.  “Less field trips means we won’t be able to see more campuses, and won’t get a broader view of what college life is.”

The program has to fundraise or get support from PFSO for most of the activities they participate. That money is used for trips, team building activities, tutors, transportation, and other related expenses. 

“Each year, we go back to almost no money. It is always in the back of mind ‘how do we get there and how do we pay for it,” Dinkler said.

Despite multiple attempts made by The Foothill Dragon Press, The ACLU has not responded to our request for comment. 

“Trying to provide them [the students] with a complete AVID experience is hard when you don’t have the right amount of funds,” AVID coordinator Heather Ferris said.

Jenny Veyna is a senior AVID member at Foothill who doesn’t fully think the bill is fair, but can personally relate.

“For the SAT and ACT, I had to get fee waivers because they were too expensive for my twin sister and me,” Veyna said. “It’s a little saddening to know you can’t afford your SAT to go to college, and that’s a big step to go to college.”

According to AB 1575, schools cannot impose fees on students even if they offer fee waivers to those who are unable to pay.

AVID is a program where students can participate regardless if they can pay for supplies or donations because of all their fundraising.  However, according to Ferris, it is becoming complicated when they cannot ask for those simple donations anymore.

“The concept of providing all opportunities to every student is a very fair concept,” Ferris said, “but what it’s ending up doing is taking away some very special programs and opportunities, where there’s no way to fund if you don’t have students actually pay for them.”

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