Indian River Adult Education Classes Safe For Now From Budget Axe

by Michael Short on August 25, 2010

By Michael Short

The Indian River School Board won’t cut adult education classes, at least not for now.

Several speakers urged the board not to slash adult education courses in order to help balance the budget during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Four people rose at that August 24 meeting at Sussex Central High School to urge the board to keep adult those programs afloat.

There had been no decision made before the meeting, but word of possible budget cuts brought out members of the public. School District Spokesman David Maull confirmed that the board was considering the cuts as one of many possible ways to help  balance the budget.

The district has been working to find approximately $1 million in cuts needed for Fiscal Year 2011. But in executive session, the board voted to spare adult education, at least for the time being.

“The board listened to the public concerns and concerns of the instructors,” Maull said.

The board voted to continue the fall session, but decided that the adult education program must be able to support itself financially. There are fees charged for the classes, but the district has still had to bear some of the costs, Maull said.

“Keep adult education alive and well,” urged instructor Marion Lisehora at the board meeting. Lisehora came with more than a dozen senior volleyball players and spoke on their behalf.

David Swain called the program one of the best outreach efforts of the school district.

The board also decided not to send bulk mail catalogs to the public advertising course offerings. In an effort to save money, the district will make the course offerings available online at irsd-adulted.com. Anyone interested in the program is urged to go to that site or to call 302-436-1010.

“The Board of Education has listened to the public’s concerns and continues to support the adult education program,” said District Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting.

Indian River’s adult continuing education program, which serves all communities in the district and its surrounding areas, offers courses in the areas of technology, recreation, arts and crafts, fitness and defensive driving. The program’s “basic education” component offers GED, English as a second language, civics and other related courses.

Walter Knapp teaches martial arts and said that stopping the adult education program would be like telling a sophomore that the school was no longer going to offer junior and senior courses.

He said his students spend years of dedication and effort to advance to different belt levels. If the classes stopped, those students would have to go to Maryland because there is no other place in Delaware to take the courses.

Swain teaches pee-wee soccer, a program which attracts from 60 to 170 students. “This helps kids throughout the whole district,” he said. “If this program wasn’t here for the kids, what would they be doing?”

A student of Knapp’s told the board his “jaw dropped” when he heard the news the courses could be on the chopping block.

“Adult education has been a mainstay for years,” said Lisehora. “It strengthens the bond between the schools and community.”

While the fall session from September until December is safe, no decision has been made about the winter session of adult education classes.

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