The Galt Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees has finalized plans to eliminate the current Adult School program with the layoffs of all eight part-time teachers and reduction of hours for its director. The unanimous decision was made at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.
However, it could be replaced with a free training program if the district is successful in obtaining a new half-million-dollar grant it has applied for, according to Superintendent Matthew Roberts.
“It should be a seamless transition,” he said of offering similar course to Galt adults.
In March, board members first discussed the Adult School cuts in response to the governor’s proposal to shift adult education to the community college system. At the time, they also voted to halve the number of hours director Karin Liu can work. She was already working on a reduced contract.
Since Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal to shift control and provide $300 million in dedicated funding for adult education to community colleges, many districts have given preliminary layoff notices to adult school staff for the 2013-14 school year, potentially further eroding adult school programs throughout the state. The new plan is expected to attempt to protect funding for K-12 adult schools, but still keep community colleges in the picture.
In Galt, Roberts hopes to replace the traditional fee-based Adult School programs through a new partnership with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency. The program would offer free training in occupations such as truck driving and customer service, according to Roberts, who said the district should learn in the coming weeks whether it obtained the grant.
If so, he said, courses for area students 18 and older could start as soon as July 1.
Still, Galt native and former student Chris Schamber is disappointed the Adult School is being eliminated. He took the school's Emergency Medical Technician course and returned several years later to teach it. On Tuesday, he was laid off.
“It’s unfortunate the district has a limited amount of money for all of its programs,” he said. “Cuts have to be made, but we are a program that has no cost to the district since students pay their tuition.”
With the elimination, the closest EMT courses are located in either Sacramento or Stockton and at community colleges where there can be a waiting list of years, according to Schamber.
He said he was fortunate to be a part of the program.
“It gave me some vocational skills to get a job and changed the direction of my life,” Schamber said. “It’s sad we won’t be able to give that back to the community now.”
Adult education began within the K-12 school system — as opposed to the community college level — serving more than 1.5 million adults at its peak during the 2008-09 school year. They typically offer classes in literacy, citizenship, English as a second language, high school diplomas and short-term career training, such as the popular EMT course offered in Galt.
The school, founded in 1993, currently has eight programs and serves 476 students.
A survey by a California education magazine of the state’s 30 largest districts that asked what impact the governor’s budget proposal would have on districts’ adult education programs came back with mixed results. Of the 25 districts that still support adult schools, almost half — 12 — said the proposal would cause them to cut back or end their programs unless the community colleges agreed to fund them. Eight said they did not know what would happen, and only five said it would have no effect, at least not for 2013-14. Despite no proposed cuts in ongoing funding, Oakland Unified, like Galt, gave preliminary layoff notices to its entire adult school staff in March and plans to shut down its 142-year-old program if the shift is made to community colleges.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.