It’s been a turbulent ride for the local school district’s workforce training program, but a soft landing appears to be on the horizon.
Although the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District voted earlier this month to make cuts in the popular Regional Occupational Program, nearly all of the courses will continue to be offered as they’re recategorized and folded into other funding groups.
The ROP classes are undergoing extensive review as officials make sure they align with the state’s push for Career Technical Education programs, which link academic knowledge and job preparation.
“We are looking forward to our ROP program converting into a more robust program offering career pathways that will support the expectations of the California Department of Education and the California Career Pathways Trust,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said.
Some ROP classes will be reclassified as general education classes and fulfill A-G requirements in visual and performing arts, physical education and other areas.
ROP funding dries up in June, but the district is working to find money for the courses that meet the state’s new focus. Some current offerings might not fit the Career Technical Education profile, Pinsker said.
CTE sectors include agriculture, arts/media/entertainment, business/finance, education, energy/environment, engineering/architecture, information technology, manufacturing, marketing/sales, public services and transportation. The district probably won’t offer courses in all sectors.
The CTE program figures to include modified ROP courses and core classes as well as college courses and internships, according to a district report.
“We are excited about this new direction, which will enhance current offerings that fit this profile and provide students with the opportunities and expectations that they need to be successful in college and careers in the 21st century,” Pinsker said.
The survival of some courses could depend on student popularity, which will be examined as officials monitor sign-ups.
Meanwhile, officials were determined not to lay off any teachers despite the changes in funding.
Officials have encouraged the district fund an ROP coordinator for the 2015-16 school year. The staffer will issue work permits, apply for grants, coordinate internships, serve as a liaison to Santa Monica College and area businesses and offer guidance as a member of the district’s CTE steering committee, according to a report.
It’s possible that the counselor and office specialist whose positions have been targeted for elimination will find other jobs in the district.
Confusion about the future of ROP courses abounded earlier this month when the board approved by a 4-3 margin a resolution that targeted ROP for cutbacks. Board members Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Craig Foster, Jose Escarce and Laurie Lieberman voted for the resolution. Maria Leon-Vazquez, Oscar de la Torre and newly appointed board member Ralph Mechur opposed it.
But the board’s action Feb. 5, which followed passionate testimony from ROP supporters at the Jan. 20 meeting, seemingly paved the way for the district to begin aligning existing courses with the state’s initiative.
“We understand the concerns of the community and heard our students, parents and staff loud and clear regarding their support — and even love — of the program,” Pinsker said.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, email@example.com or on Twitter.