Adult school fitness classes to lose state funding

Beginning next year, some of the classes taught through the Claremont Adult School will be managed by a new consortium of local adult education providers under the direction of Assembly Bill 86, passed two years ago.

Sacramento has yet to give individual districts the word on how the new consortiums will be managed, however, CUSD Coordinator of Alternative Education Felipe Delvasto expects to know by the beginning of 2016.

Under AB 86, either the local community college would manage the consortium or it would remain under the management of local school districts. Either way, there should be little difference in the classes offered here in Claremont, according to Mr. Delvasto.

What will change is that students who approach Claremont Adult School about programs offered in other districts within the pool, such as those in nursing, could enroll in Claremont and then attend classes at the other school.

Claremont will be part of the Citrus College consortium, which also includes the cities of Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia and Duarte.

“In the past we had to tell them we didn’t offer that,” Mr. Delvasto said.

Affected are type I, or basic skills classes, such as those leading to a high school diploma, GED and English as a second language. Classes for disabled adults are also affected.

Type II, or community enrichment classes, will not be covered under the new arrangement but must continue to be self-sustaining. These classes, including fine arts and exercise courses, must meet minimum enrollments in order to continue.

Paying for the instructor accounts for the main expense of enrichment classes, however, there are also facility costs. Some classes such as ceramics require an additional materials fee. There is some risk that these classes could be eliminated if enrollment declines, however, that same risk exists now.

An exception to the current structure has been the exercise and circuit training classes taught by Mike Lepore. Initially the exercise program was for district employees only but in the early ‘90s Mr. Lepore asked then head of adult education Chris Ulrich if the class could be offered to the public. Ms. Ulrich agreed and was able to secure state funding as it was classified as an applied public health class.

For over 10 years the class was offered free of charge, with money coming from Sacramento based on attendance, much like K-12 education. But that all changed with budget cuts associated with the recession. Since then, participants have paid $50 for a 10-week session, with money from the district and fundraising campaigns making up any shortfall. However, that is set to change.

In about a year, the two classes will have to become self-sufficient, which means that enrollment will need to double to avoid raising the cost, according to Mr. Lepore.

“Because we have so many seniors on fixed incomes I did not want it to be a hardship, so I was insistent that the cost stay at $50,” he said.

Retired teacher Phoebe Deville has been coming to the evening class since having surgery in October 2013 and seeking exercise to speed recovery. “I have lost 40 pounds and can go 10 to 15 minutes on the bike,” she said during a brief break from her Wednesday night workout.

“These are the nicest people ever, they all work hard and encourage each other,” she said. “And Mike knows what he is doing, so it is safe.”

Local realtor Mike Ramirez has been attending for nine years and credits the class for turning his health around. “I have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but since I started here all my levels are down and I’ve lost 39 pounds,” he said.

Mr. Lepore estimates that he will have to bring enrollment up to 60 or 70 students from the current 35. He hopes to get a boost from a booth at Village Venture and will be actively pursuing a corporate sponsor.

Mr. Delvasto confirmed that the exercise classes would not receive state funding under the new consortium, but emphasized that he would like to continue to offer the program.

“We understand it is a process, we will talk to the community, reach out to organizations as a district to figure out what going to do to support those classes,” said Mr. Delvasto, acknowledging that there is a significant senior population counting on those classes.

Overall Mr. Delvasto is looking forward to the new consortium mainly because he will be able to offer a wider range of programs.

Asked if he was excited he said: “Absolutely. We have been hit by budget cuts in previous years. The new [program] will be better than we have offered for awhile.” 

—Steven Felschandneff


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