Community Budget Meeting in El Cerrito, February 3

There were about 100 people at this meeting, and Board of Education members Antonio Medrano and Madeleine Kronenberg were present.  As in Pinole and at LoVonya DeJean in Richmond, the idea of eliminating adult education went down to resounding defeat.  However, the idea of taking away another million dollars was quite popular, unlike at LoVonya Dejean, where the vote was evenly split. Superintendant Harter and Associate Superintendant Sheri Gamba never give very specific answers to what programs will be cut or what the adult education program will look like if a third of it’s already reduced budget is taken away, saying that those decisions will be left to adult school administration.  However, there are already recommendations on the district website to eliminate the Older Adult and Adults with Disabilities programs completely. Both of these programs have several important projects in El Cerrito: El Cerrito Open House, Christ Lutheran Senior Care, and St. John’s Senior Care.

People always want to know how much money adult education can raise through fees, and at this meeting Sheri Gamba kept talking about how “enterpreneurial” adult school fees are.  This obscures the fact that, until last year, some of our biggest programs: ESL, High School Diploma, GED, Older Adults, Parent Education and Adults with Disabilities, were part of the public education system and were mandated to be offered free.  These programs serve some of the most vulnerable populations in West County, and at COSAS meetings we have been hearing about how the fees are making it difficult or impossible for some students to enroll in adult school programs that used to offer a way out of poverty to economically stressed families.  Teachers at ABC Industries, which is part of adults with disabilities, stated that 25 of their students had to drop out of the program because they could not pay the fee.  ABC Industries is a lifeskills program that supports adults with disabilities so they can work. That’s 25 people out of a job because of the fees.  Martha Estrada, director of the family literacy program in North Richmond, stated at the Save Adult Education Summit that many people in the program cannot afford the $15 per semester fee.  COSAS needs to get the full story about the fees out, as others are not telling it.

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3 Responses

  1. Even if Adult Ed raised fees that doesn’t mean that the District won’t take that revenue if they feel they needed it. The problem with Adult Ed funds needs to be addressed at the state level and get the legislation to change adult ed out of tier 3.

  2. That is absolutely true, Joann. But some people who visit this website do not know the background or what “Tier 3” means. It would be helpful to have a post here that explains these things and offers language to use for writing our state legislators.

  3. I have to correct myself! I just read Madeleine Kronenberg’s post of January 27–she offers all kinds of useful information, for background and going forward.

    I still think we should launch an e-mail letter-writing campaign to our state legislators: post the model language here, suggesting that people personalize it by changing the wording in the first and last paragraphs. I often get requests from organizations doing that kind of lobbying; is there any reason why we can’t set up something like that on this blog?

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