Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Will Happen to SCROC?

SCROC, located in Central Torrance, CA

Following the educational reforms with the Local Control Funding Formula in 2013, the fate of Southern California Regional Occupation Center hung in the balance.

Aside from two more years of extending funding, the skills and workplace training center located in Torrance, CA may be forced to close for good.

Six school districts operate through SCROC and send students there through joint powers agreements: Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Torrance, Inglewood, and Palos Verdes.

Easy Reader News did not report happy prospects for the institution, particularly in regards to the impact of its closure in Redondo Beach students:

The proposed state budget deprives over 400 Redondo Union High School and Redondo Shores students of vocational training opportunities accessible to them through the Southern California Regional Occupation Center, whose financial future hangs in limbo.

Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposes restructuring education funding, but one unintended consequence is that regional vocational training centers will lose their dedicated funding streams. If the budget passes, SoCal ROC will close in July.

One local official commented:

School Board member Drew Gamet, who sits on the SoCal ROC board, called the potential loss of SoCal ROC funding a “tragedy.”

“It may save a little bit of money but in terms of the size of the overall education budget we’re talking about a miniscule micro-fraction of the overall budget,” Gamet said. “[And] in terms of the cost to us to replace those classes – well, we haven’t done a cost analysis, but I can tell you there’s no possible way we can make up the difference.”

The Center is still open, but will close in 2015 is there is no funding provided. There is a reserve, and Torrance Unified has pledged to continue their part of the funding, but another school district, Inglewood, is currently under receivership, and may not be able to provide its part, since the structural reforms  are taking up much of the district's time and energy. Enrollment has increased, so far.

In 2013, John-Paul Tabakian campaigned on a platform of finding ways to maintain funding for the institution, as well as expanding career pathways for high schools students and graduates. Unfortunately, he finished last out of four candidates, with three seats open in that year's election.

Torrance Unified School Board member Terry Ragins has done what she can, and is still meeting with key committees and elected leaders to find some what to get continued funding for SCROC. Michael Wermers and Don Lee are doing what they can, as well. Wermers even attended Assemblyman Hadley's victory party and his office open house a few weeks after.

What could the South Bay's newest Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance) and State Senators Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and Isadore Hall III (D-Inglewood) do to save SCROC? They could extend provisional funding for the district until Sacramento lawmakers can come up with a plan. Other insiders have suggested that a new plan has to include statewide funding streams. Another ROC, in San Jose, will be forced to close, as well. An alliance of legislators from Los Angeles and the Bay Area should work together and pressure Speaker Atkins to provide a steady stream for SCROC.

I have realized over time that the politics and legislative handling of this center has become fractious and complicated. Some local leaders are concerned that these newly elected officials will have little impact on moving Sacramento (and Governor Brown) to do something to save SCROC. I hope that more concerned citizens can buck this narrative and help save the regional occupation center. Thousands of students in the South Bay depend on vocational training, both general and special education students.

No comments:

Post a Comment