Mountain View Voice

Opinion - May 8, 2009

Adult School cuts will hurt

The gaping holes left in the Adult School curriculum by the recently announced $1.3 million in cutbacks pulls the rug out from under some of the city's most vulnerable populations.

The school is managed by the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, but most of its funding comes directly from the state. And in February the state announced that 20 percent of that support will be abruptly turned off July 1, which precipitated the district's public hearing last week to explain the cuts and get feedback from some of the students who will be affected.

Around 100 students, family members and disabled adults who use the school turned out last week to tell school board members how Adult School classes have helped them in the past and how much they will be missed if they are closed down.

Given the state's present financial situation (which the governor and Legislature hope will be shored up by passage of six propositions in the May 19 election), it is not likely that funding will be restored to the Adult School, at least this budget year.

That leaves the difficult choices up to the school district's board members, who must feel they are between the proverbial rock and hard place. At the hearing, Adult School coordinator Laura Stefanski presented her expense reduction plan, which she said focused on saving core programs such as career training, community integration and basic education. But even these classes could lose much of their current budget.

Two other very popular offerings — classes for people with disabilities and English as a Second Language — will be cut by about 45 percent. Some 3,000 students were enrolled in the ESL program during the 2007-08 academic year, and although fewer than 300 disabled adults attended the school that same year, they spent most of their day in the program, and rely on the services offered there.

Classes for older adults, which also attracted some 3,000 students in 2007-08, will be converted to fee-based tuition, which will save the school nearly $30,000, the district said.

No one can estimate how important the Adult School is for ESL students and older adults. But there can be no question about the value of these classes to local disabled residents, who will have nowhere else to go if their classes are shut down.

A good case could be made for saving virtually all the Adult School classes. But at a minimum, we urge the school board to find a way to continue the classes for disabled adults. Many of these people will be lost without their classes, which undoubtedly served as the anchor of their week.

There are no easy solutions to this pending crisis, but there are choices. We hope the school board makes the right ones.


Posted by A. Genoff, a resident of another community
on May 12, 2009 at 9:27 am

Thank you for recognizing the importance of continuing education for the disabled adult population in our community and urging the MVLA Board to keep our quality classes available during this economic crisis. Ailene Genoff, MVLAAE Coordinator

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