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Our View: Program cut harsh for important group

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The funding challenge for schools took a sad turn recently when the local high school district board approved cutting a program that helps a small, but in-need population.
On the recommendation of its superintendent, the Placer Union High School District board decided to nix funding to the Placer School for Adults’ only program for students with developmental disabilities.
While the school district’s reasons of cost savings and using money toward other college-readiness programs are legitimate, it’s wrong to completely eliminate a worthy skill-building class to those in need even if the population that uses it is small in number.
The program to be cut is called the Learning Center. The center is a classroom for adults with learning disabilities and is funded by the high school district to house the Training for Developmentally Delayed Adults. It helps students learn academic and daily living skills as well as community awareness.
The district cited the $30,000 a year cost of the lease plus the instructor’s salary as too much for a program that students use on average about 12 hours a month.
By closing the program, the district plans to use the money toward other areas of need for students, including career and college readiness training and more help for English language learners and other high school diploma requirements.
Board members say the state directing funding toward those programs instead of others, such as the Learning Center, are other reasons for the decision.
It’s an understandable line of reasoning. However, it’s not right that the instructor received hardly any notice or opportunity to offer an alternate solution nor does there seem to have been an effort to look at how to maintain the program in a smaller, more fiscally viable form.
Is there another solution the district and board can consider? What about cutting the program down but keeping it open? Is there a nonprofit or private company that can become a partner with the school district to maintain parts of the Learning Center? Is there an opportunity for a donation of the lease or parts of it?
The district should reach out to parents and caregivers and invite them to a roundtable discussion.
There are also four upcoming board meetings at which those that support the center can come and voice their opinion. Parents and caregivers should make arrangements to attend and open up a discussion on how they can work with the school district.
Those who live with disabilities and those who take care of them face daily struggles that many of us do not. Just because they are a smaller population doesn’t mean they should be a forgotten group or one that is cast aside.
It may have been a difficult decision for the district to come to, but it’s much more difficult for the families who used or relied on the program to deal with the aftermath on a daily basis.
These same caregivers and parents are also taxpayers that contribute to our local schools. They’re voice should be counted and their contribution to schools valued.
Don’t let the door close so quickly and suddenly on a worthy program.