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
|Vice President Sarah Methner
1042 Strait View Drive
Director Cindy Kelly
2830 West Edgewood Drive
|Director Susan Shotthafer
214 Alderview Drive
|Director Sandy Long, Ph.D.
809 North Masters Road