Reaction to talk of closing the Skills Center


As you may have heard the Port Angeles School District Board of Directors are discussing closing the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center.  Here is one man’s reaction to that conversation.  Richard Wade made the following speech before the school board last Thursday.


Good evening, my name is Richard Wade and I’m the education coordinator on the board of directors for PAPA TV.

Various sources have indicated that this body intends to close down the North Olympic Peninsula Skill Center. It’s my understanding pink slips have already been issued to select employees of the facility.

As a concerned citizen of Clallam County and a community volunteer, I find this course of action troubling to say the least.

My involvement in PAPA TV is solely to create a business model to promote job opportunities and career paths for the youth of our community.

As a matter of fact, our entire board of directors, all of whom are volunteers, fully intend to employ our locally trained youth at PAPA studios, giving them the opportunity to pursue their passions and showcase their skill set in the television, cinematography and motion picture industry.

We have also utilized the Culinary Arts Students on numerous occasions for banquets and catering finding their gastronomical delicacies quite delightful, not to mention the service top notch as well.

I would encourage this body and anyone from the community to take the time and visit any program provided at the Skills Center and watch these young future professionals self-actualize in their chosen field. This is not only a cognitive exchange of ideas but real, hands on, practical application of skill sets directly pertaining to each student’s chosen career path. The energy in these real life settings is electrifying!

My concern for the Skills Center goes well beyond previously uninformed local community members, it also extends to a number of State Representatives who have been apprised of your pending action.

Please keep in mind, they too have worked hard to create and fund this program and have a vested interest in the future of the skills center and our communities youth. These representatives are committed to looking into both immediate funding to retain valuable personnel and to maintain continuity of enrollment, along with “buying time” to allow for an investigation to explore others ways to structure the administrative vehicle.

The reality is, reports have already been created and actions taken supporting the closing of the Skills Center. All we, referring to the silent majority of our community, are asking of this body is to retract and suspend any future action related to the Skills Center closure and or re-designation until all avenues have been explored and outside resources can thoroughly examine other viable options.

I would also encourage this body to research Governor Inslee’s position on Skills Centers in general, I believe you’ll find it enlightening to say the least.

In closing, I urge you,  please suspend any further action on this matter until we, the concerned citizens of Clallam County, can find common ground and the right solution to this academic quagmire.

The actions we take today will impact current and future generations to come, let’s work together for the sake of their future.


  1. Richard

    Dear Mr. Wade,

    The skill center loses about $1.8 million annually which comes from the taxpayers. I personally applaud the district for making the difficult ban correct decision.

    Perhaps you and the others could form yet another non profit 501c3 and solicit donations to continue to fund the skills center.



    Editor’s Note: Your figure is twice the operating budget of the center so I cannot imagine how any entity can “lose” twice its budget. And is it “lost” if dozens of students graduate high school with a marketable skill set. You may be aware that only a third of local students will enroll in college, about a third who enroll will graduate college. If they do not get a marketable skill set in high school they will be stuck in menial jobs for life. They will then be eligible for all types of ” benefits” for life. Now, compare the skill center costs as opposed to a life of menial jobs and qualifying for “benefits” for life. These “benefits” cost a lot more than work-training skills.The skills center is a bargain.

    1. Nadia Seymour

      Dear Richard,

      Since when has educating our children been a profit making enterprise for the taxpayer?

      And if we don’t educate our children, what can we expect? From an article here a short while ago (To Punish, or to Help):

      “Studies reveal that it costs $30,000 a year to house an inmate.

      Studies also reveal America spends only $11,665 per student, in public schools.”

      The taxpayer will pay, if we don’t do everything we can to help our children become productive citizens.

    2. Richard

      Richard, great name by the way, I agree with you 100%, excluding the bloviated numbers you’ve posted! We’re on the same page, give us time to find a solution and we’ll “re-invent the wheel” sort of speak. I know the value “competency-based” or “performance based” education provides as I used those teaching/ training principles for over 20 years in my previous profession. I would like to also apologize for not becoming engaged earlier in the process but I was out of state helping my brother-in-law and best friend deal with an end of life scenario, which segues into my next point, what’s the rush? Why wasn’t this information disseminated sooner to the “taxpayers”, especially the parents, who share a vested interest in every child’s educational success!
      Thanks for the suggestion Richard, I hope you will now help us spread the word and buy the time we need to save our children’s future. To quote a certain politician I will leave nameless, “it take a village to raise a child”! Loosely translated, it takes a community to watch over it’s children’s successful future, and not a governing body espousing false information to destroy it!
      Welcome aboard Richard!!

  2. Stephanie Noblin

    Does monies from the recent approved levy include a designated budget specifically for the skills center? If so, where does that money get redirected to? The citizens approved the levy in part to support the skills center. Lots of questions here to follow up.

    1. Richard

      Excellent point Stephanie! Maybe the voters should repeal and/or freeze the 42 million dollar levy until the community has an opportunity to conduct its own investigation as to what’s really behind the closure and redesignation! Maybe bring in a state auditor or investigator to root out what’s behind this misguided effort to deprive the disenfranchised from being productive citizens instead of dependents in an already burdened subsistence system. I wonder if Bobby Flay, Cat Cora or even Spielberg or Bill Gates were ever singled out and treated differently because they didn’t march to the same drummer as transitional education? Hummm, too many questions and not enough time!! We need to buy time folks, don’t be fooled by what’s being dished out, let’s ask questions, make our own inquires and save this valuable resource!

  3. Another Anon

    If “investing” in our children’s future is not “economic development”, then I don’t know what is!

    How much money does this area spend on things it calls “economic development”? How many groups and projects? Every year? What does it have to show for that money spent?

    The Skills Center is one of the only success stories around here! We are proud of what the students and graduates of the Skill Center have accomplished.

    Graduates have started businesses here. They are employed here.

    Editor’s Note: They are also creating jobs here. Many alum from the Skills Center now employ others in their businesses.

    1. Richard

      Great point! EDC, WE NEED TO TALK!!!

      1. Anon

        EDC is a worthless band of flim-flam men. Focus on to the players here, esp. the School District and their processes.

  4. Patrick

    The math doesn’t work.

    Under state law, a skills center can be supported by a single school district, but only if that district has more than 12,000 students. The Port Angeles School District has closer to 4,000.

    The only programs being cancelled are culinary and Cinema&TV. Every other program will be transferred back to PAHS or PC.

    The skills center was ambitious but failed. Keep failing or move to a new plan?


    Editor’s Note: The Skills Center has been granted a waiver from the state to operate with less than the normally required 12,000 students. Even when all the consortium schools were on board there was still less than 12,000 students in the entire consortium.

    1. Richard

      Patrick, just like Richard’s comment earlier, you to hit the nail on the head! That’s exactly what needs to be done, move on to another plan! To do that, it takes time, time we don’t seem to have. We can “re-invent the wheel” and keep this valuable program intact with a little bit of time and effort.
      I personally don’t have a horse in this race other than trying to save a program that produces “shovel ready” employees, some of whom live, work or own businesses right in our own community.

    2. Anonymous

      Businesses here cannot find qualified workers. Without the Skills Center, we can count on continuing not having trained, qualified workers. And, no economic growth in the area.



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