Adult students turn to Lucia Mar after closure

Soon after the Santa Maria high school district’s adult education program was dropped because of budget cuts, employees at the Lucia Mar district’s program started receiving calls from would-be students south of the county line.

Now, about 20 people are on a waiting list to take classes through the South County school district, said Charlissa Boaz-Skinner, principal of adult education for Lucia Mar.

“We will add them in as we can,” Boaz-Skinner wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune. “We want to make sure that we have space for our own students first.”

The program won’t receive any additional money from the state, so Boaz-Skinner can’t add staff to accommodate more students.

As of May, Lucia Mar Unified School District’s adult education program served 2,615 students, she said.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District board began the process in May 2009 to close its adult education program, which was based primarily at Delta High School, Assistant Superintendent Kathy Frazier said.

Doing so allowed the adult students to complete their courses.

The program served 951 students last year; 322 students graduated this year. Of those, 58 have a chance to take the high school exit exam this month, which they need to pass in order to receive their diplomas, she said.

The district’s $150,000 budget for the adult education program was swept into the general fund.

“It’s a tough decision, but when you have less money you have to prioritize,” Frazier said. “But we didn’t want to leave the adult community without options.”

Santa Maria adult-education students could also try the Lompoc Adult School, Allan Hancock College or take courses online, she noted.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929.