Education Report: Adult Ed Hit Hard in Budget Proposal

Oakland’s adult education programs would be slashed by almost 40 percent in 2010-11 ($4.5 million of the $11.5 million they currently receive in state funding) if preliminary budget recommendations made by Superintendent Tony Smith are approved by the school board Jan. 27.

The recommendations, which will be discussed at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, contain few specifics, such as which central services would be cut and by how much. But the presentation offers an idea of how the pain of a $28 million cut — Oakland Unified’s projected deficit for the 2010-11 school year because of ongoing state funding cutbacks — might be shared across the district.

Under this proposal, elementary, middle and high schools would absorb about one-third of the $28 million reduction; their budgets would shrink by less than 5 percent in 2010-11.

The remaining cuts would be made to central office services, facilities upkeep and adult education programs. Central services would be cut by about $10 million, adult education by $7.5 million (see explanation below) and facilities upkeep by $1 million.

Adult education funds — which California school districts now can spend on any program, not just adult education — make up less than 5 percent of Oakland’s $252 million general purpose budget. They include diploma and GED programs and courses in English as a second language, parent education and career technical education. Many school districts, facing dramatic cutbacks in state funding, have used this fund to balance the books.

Brigitte Marshall, director of Oakland Adult and Career Education, said such a cut would mean the elimination of enrichment classes and programs for older adults, which were dramatically reduced this year, as well as a reduction in ESL and parent education classes.

"It’s going to be a huge impact on the community, there’s no question about it," she said.

Note: Marshall explained the $7.5 million adult education cut referred to in the staff presentation makes the proposed cut look deeper than it really is because it includes $3 million that originally was set aside for facilities upgrades at Edward Shands Adult School. She said the district would use another pot of money to make those upgrades — and, in turn, use the $3 million to help balance the budget.

THE OAKLAND TRIBUNE

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