Save the Skills Center

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There seems to be a mad rush to dismantle the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center.  The Skills Center is now training students in such areas as:  Culinary Arts, Cosmetology, Welding, Media and Cinema Production, Commercial Art, Carpentry, Auto Body Repair and so on.

All these skills are necessary and needed in the local economy.  All the businesses who rely on a trained workforce need these skills.

Already local entities such as the Port of Port Angeles, The Economic Development Commission, the Chamber of Commerce and other businesses organizations have voiced an interest in keeping the skills center alive and fully functioning.  We need to add to this chorus of voices seeking to save the skills center.

With almost no prior warning the Port Angeles School District announced the dissolution of the Skills Center without any input from the community and the various stake holders.

The Skills Center came into being in 2002 by creating a consortium of schools in the county who agreed to provide students and funding to the center.  Most of the consortium schools have not been doing either for the past few years.  The entire funding of the skills center has fallen upon the local “Host District” meaning the PASD.

Now, suddenly, the host district says it is because of the consortium schools pulling out is the reason they must dismantle the skills center.  This is a red herring since the local school district has been the major funding entity for nearly a decade.  Recently the community came together and approved a $45 million levy for the school system.  During the run-up to the levy vote there was no mention made of the closing of the skills center.  Approximately $5 million of the approved levy is slated for career training.    Now they want to move that career training back to the high school.  Some students do not thrive in the regimented schedule of customary classes.

The difference is at the high school the classes are presented in 55 minute segments.  At the skills center the classes are provided in three hour blocks of time.  If anyone has ever attempted to learn a trade you must remember that a 55 minute block of time is barely enough time to change clothes and get out the tools and then clean up and put up the tools and change  back into street clothes.  A lot of wasted time.  In three hour blocks of time a person has time to hear, see and do the subject matter presented.

The skills center is a life-saver for those marginalized kids who do not thrive in a structured learning environment but need to be able to work with their hands and create something worthwhile.

When you study the lives of people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other luminaries on the world stage you realize they too failed to prosper in the regimented world of public education.  Yet, when allowed to follow their passion they created million of jobs and amassed incredible fortunes.

We don’t know if the skills center will turn out any of these types but we must certainly give them a chance to thrive.

The school district has plenty of money.  Money is not the issue.  The will to see the skills center succeed and serve these creative kids is all that is needed.  Most of the school board members are in the dark as to the history of the skills center.  Only Cindy Kelly has been on the school board since the inception of the skills center.  She has not complained about the lack of funding from the consortium schools over the past 16 years she has been on the school board–why is this suddenly such a crisis?

We urge anyone reading this to contact the school board members and ask them to slow down on the dissolution of the skills center until an ad hoc committee can be developed to explore permanent funding.

Seventy percent of students who graduate from local high schools DO NOT attend college.  These kids need to be trained in a skill that will allow them to provide for themselves and their families a living wage.  If we do not we are sentencing them to a life of menial jobs at minimum wage.  We can do better for our kids and our local economy.  Please send an email to each of the school board members and ask them to please, allow at least one year for the community to respond to the needs of the children and the community.

President Joshua Jones, M.D.

315 Shade Tree Lane
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360.797.1844
Email:jjones@portangelesschools.org
Term Expires: 11/19

Director Joshua Jones
Vice President Sarah Methner

1042 Strait View Drive
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone:360.460.9730
Email:smethner@portangelesschools.org
Term Expires: 11/17

Director Sarah Methner

Director Cindy Kelly

2830 West Edgewood Drive
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360.452.9413
Email: ckelly@portangelesschools.org
Term Expires 11/17

Director Cindy Kelly
Director Susan Shotthafer

214 Alderview Drive
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360.452.4393
Email:sshotthafer@portangelesschools.org
Term Expires: 11/19

Director Susan Shotthafer
Director Sandy LongDirector Sandy Long, Ph.D.

809 North Masters Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: 360.452.9010
Email: slong@portangelesschools.org
Term Expires: 11/17

 

Washington State School Directors’ Association

5 Comments

  1. Steve Koehler

    At a time when our governor & the state are moving forward with supporting vocational training for high school students, PASD wants to move in the opposite direction. Folks complain about problems of homelessness, drug abuse, crime etc. among area youth, while simultaneously trying to do away with programs to provide local young people alternatives. Ignorance is far more costly than education in the long run.

    Reply
  2. Nadia Seymour

    This is an absolute “no-brainer”!

    All we hear about from people seeking election to elected office is “jobs, jobs, jobs”, and “economy”, “economic development”, ” job creation”, etc.

    The Skills Center was created specifically to provide a real answer to these pledges from our representatives. Enabling and expanding the Skills Center makes complete logical and economic sense.

    Come on, School Board members, help make the Skill Center a better place to help our children in a very real way. Help create this “Ad Hoc” committee, that will help you investigate and solve this important issue.

    Reply
  3. Steve

    What I have read indicates the classes are moving from the Skills Center back to the High School. It seems a no-brainer to reduce the inefficient costs and consolidate.
    Editor’s Note: Educating young people is not often “efficient.” Not all students excel in a standard learning environment. The high school offers one hour blocks of class while the Skills Center allows 3 hour blocks of instruction and performance. Art is not always “efficient.”

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    As some one who took both 55 minute classes, and 3 hour long blocks, I can verify what is said in the original post. In 55 minutes, you can barely get started with “hands on” learning projects, before you have to put everything away and clean up. It is VERY inefficient.

    I learned more in one 3 hour block, that I learned in a whole quarter in the high school.

    I wish people could get past their politics, and think about their kids futures.

    Reply
  5. Lee

    Editor – you often lament wasted tax dollars for projects. You have lamented and lambasted those that built the skills center for the debt it placed on the community. You should encourage classes move back to the high school. You should support efficiency where possible. The classes are not going away they are being moved.
    Editor’s Note: Thanks for being a long-time reader, however you mis-remember–partly. Anyway, training young people in work skills is not always efficient.
    Training job skills in 55 minute sessions is utterly inefficient. They need three hour blocks of time to really learn a trade. Besides that, some of the students who have chosen job-training skills at the Skills Center will get lost in the shuffle going back to a large school filed with cliques in which they may not fit.

    Reply

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