Celebrate Huntington Beach Adult School … Then Kill It?

Before the regular Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday evening, the Huntington Beach Union High School District is throwing a party to honor “Life Long Learners” from Huntington Beach Adult School, and as part of regular business, the school will be honored. But supporters of the school are in no mood to celebrate. They will mark the occasion by delivering to the board letters asking that they abandon plans to essentially kill the adult school.

Last Friday, students and teachers were informed district Superintendent Van W. Riley (pictured) would be proposing to the board the elimination of 80 percent of the programs at the adult school, which has been open for 38 years. “This will negatively impact approximately 300,000 students that have been through the Adult School's doors,” states a fax supporters sent to the media this morning.

The timing is rather odd given the agenda the district's five board members are preparing to wade through. At 7 p.m., “a reception will be held in honor of the students from the Huntington Beach Adult School who are being recognized for being selected as 'Lifelong Learners.'” The first order of business once the regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. is adoption of “a resolution honoring the Huntington Beach Adult School during Adult Education Week, March 9 through March 13, 2009.” Next the board is scheduled to publicly recognize the school's “Lifelong Learners” for the
2008-09 school year. “Dr. Doris Longmead, Principal, will introduce
the honorees and provide background information,” states the agenda.

Of course, desperate times call for desperate measures. But HBUHSD is faring better than many other districts financially, at least according to a letter Riley distributed to all employees on Jan. 21 that pops up on the opening page of the district website. Reacting to fears about state education cutbacks and Controller John Chiang's “cash crisis” warnings, Riley states, “the district has positioned itself with adequate reserves as a consequence of implementing a proactive approach to conservative cash management, maintaining reserves above those mandated by the state for our size of district, implementing freezes on hiring and spending where possible, and setting aside unallocated state categorical funds.”

Among those who will try to address the board–which first gathers at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 5832 Bolsa Ave., Huntington Beach–will be adult school students, staff members and parents of many whose high school graduations are now jeopardized by the proposed elimination of summer school. The same supporters then want to take their concerns to members of the press covering the meeting–or there to party.

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