Since 1938 the has ushered its students – many of them recent immigrants – through the trials of learning English and studying for the GRE. The first building blocks, one might say, of the American Dream.
But after 74 years of service, the school is serving its final class after the Sonoma Valley Unified School District severed its funding in the .
Which means problems for the many local and regional students who count on the program in their quest for a better life.
Adult schools have faced declining resources since 2008, when several regional facilities were shuttered, Pam Garramone, principal of Sonoma Valley Adult School, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Regional facilities are especially important to adult students, said Garramone, who often lack transportation or the time to drive long distances.
“It’s going to be a big hole in our community,” she told the paper.
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District board in January voted to close the adult school to save $267,000. In doing so, the board took advantage of a change made by the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 that took away guaranteed funding for adult education programs and gave greater discretion to local school districts on how to spend that money.
Faced with a $2.6 million deficit for the coming fiscal year, the Sonoma Valley board decided money for the adult program could be better spent elsewhere.
“There were no good choices, unfortunately,” said Justin Frese, the district deputy superintendent.
Frese said that district officials considered applying for grants or increasing fees to keep the program afloat, but ultimately, did not find a realistic plan.
In Petaluma, however, the adult program will stay open, reports the Press-Democrat, despite having to cut its budget in half.
Unfortunately for the Sonoma Valley students that would make the trip, Petaluma's school has a wait-list for enrollment – and priority goes to local residents.
Have you benefited from the Adult School? Do you know someone who has taken classes? Share your story, or ideas for budget spending in the comments.