Adult education supporters hoisted signs outside school district headquarters in downtown Los Angeles in April 2012.
The Los Angeles Unified School system is embarking on a process to revamp its adult education programs - one of the biggest victims of years of budget cuts - and it's teaming up with the city and business interests to come up with the plan.
"We have to provide better adult learning opportunities," said David Rattray, Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce Development for the L.A. Chamber of C0mmmerce. "For the business community and the economy to have what they to have the talent they need, and for young adults and adults in L.A. to have the opportunity they deserve."
The impetus for the change is $25 million in competitive state grants to help adult education programs reorganize.
The district once offered a significant number of classes to help adults learn English, get a GED or learn a trade.
Over four years, it cut the budget for adult education by 70%, forcing enrollment to be shaved by 300,000 students. The district now spends $100 million on adult education, offering classes to 100,000 students.
School board member Steve Zimmer, who heads an L.A. Unified ad hoc committee on adult education, and said new blood is crucial for reviving the program.
"Because sometimes silos break down naturally," said Zimmer, "and sometimes they have to be sledgehammered."
The coalition working on plans includes the district, the City of Los Angeles, the chamber and community colleges, which also offer adult education classes.
Zimmer's committee plans to present recommendations to the full school board before the end of the year.
The district will then send the plan up to Sacramento to compete for the grants, which are scheduled to be awarded in the spring.