From The Contra Costa Times:
The first thing that Steven France, director of Del Valle Education Center, wants people to learn this fall is that the Acalanes Adult Education program is open for business. Then he wants them to sign up for their favorite classes.
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France says he's heartened by the fact that when media reports and word-of-mouth spread the news that the program would end, the reaction was immediate and strong.
"The former director galvanized the community to write letters to legislators. They expressed how closing the program would impact them," France, a former Acalanes School District administrator, said. "I find adult education remarkable. People want to continue learning, teachers want to help ESL students improve their language skills, adults want secondary education diplomas ... I've always been interested in teaching adults."
The program coordinator for adult education at Mount Diablo Unified School District said administrators in the Pleasant Hill-based program were proactive and began structural funding changes approximately three years ago.
"We began the very difficult task of transitioning our lifelong education classes from being state-supported to fee-based," said Judith Sosnowski. "We had a lot of resistance from students because they were used to paying very low fees. We lost students and teachers, but we're happy that now, we have a sustainable program."
MDUSD adult education also operates a Loma Vista campus in Concord that receives state funds, but district Secretary Denise Landry says those courses run separately because of the different funding streams.
Other adult education options in Contra Costa County are already entirely fee-based.
The Bernard Osher Foundation's "OLLI@Berkeley" offers six-week courses, weekly lectures and special community events, in Berkeley and Lafayette. Three membership tiers (Single Term, Annual and Premium) are priced at $50, $100 and $850, respectively.
Diablo Valley College's Emeritus College offers courses to adults that include Italian and French languages, music history, vineyard tours, psychology classes and special fundraiser concerts, among others. Fees range from approximately $18 to $70.
"Our expenses, instructor salaries, brochure printing, staff hours, mailing and supplies need to be covered by student fees and fundraisers. We receive no outside funding," says Director Debby Muskar.
Acalanes' program fees vary depending on the course. With this year's increase, one-day classes are $25, 10-day courses average about $120, and art classes for which materials are required are $150 to $170. World languages are among the most popular courses. With one year to prove viable, France says his "number one emphasis" is to tell people "We're ready to enroll, expand and support the community's further learning."
Acalanes adult education registration begins Aug. 17 at 8 a.m. for all classes.
Fall classes begin Sept. 4.
For information, go to www.acalanes.k12.ca.us/adulted.