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SIMI VALLEY : Adult Education Advocates Angry

Angered by a proposal to take more than $450,000 from the Simi Valley adult education program to offset the school district’s $3.2-million deficit, adult school students and employees reprimanded school board members this week.

Holding up a Band-Aid during the board’s meeting Tuesday night, adult school employee Margaret Leese accused the trustees of using adult education’s budget as a bandage for the district’s financial wounds.

“All little people want a Band-Aid when they have an owie,” she said. “This district has an owie and adult education is its Band-Aid.”

The adult education program, which is the largest in Ventura County, serving about 11,000 students, has carefully saved millions over the past 10 years, said Sondra Jones, adult education director.

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Previously, California legislation said money generated in adult education must stay in adult education and cannot be used to fund K-12 programs.

But the state Legislature recently changed that law by allowing school districts to take 10% of adult education money for this school year.

Simi Valley resident and former adult school student Walt Madrid told the board

Tuesday that just because the state permits the transfer does not mean the trustees should take such action.

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“I really think this is wrong,” Madrid said.

But some school board members responded angrily to the embittered pleas, reminding community members that the district is facing a massive deficit that warrants the transfer of funds.

“I’m disappointed that the adult school would come forward and say, ‘Don’t touch us,’ ” Trustee Diane Collins said. “It’s about all I can do to sit here and listen to it.”

The school board will vote on the transfer of funds at its next meeting Sept. 6.

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