June 6, 2017
Meeting was called to order at 7:30am.
PABA Secretary Peggy Norris was absent, and the guestbook was not circulated. Several guests in the audience introduced themselves, including Port Angeles School Board members Sarah Methner and Cindy Kelly. There were at least three members of the general public also in the audience, attracted to the meeting by notices in public media.
No written minutes of the last meeting (May 23) were circulated because of Secretary Norris’ absence, but President Hoult noted they had been posted on the PABA website and asked for their approval by members present who had reviewed them online. The May 23 minutes were approved unanimously on a motion by Jack Glaubert, seconded by Steve Bearman.
There were several announcements of upcoming community events, and Paul Martin, pinch-hitting for Norris’ weekly presentation of a local “historical moment”, gave a humorous report from his days as a book publisher in Port Angeles about the importance of proofreading.
The speaker portion of the program ran an extra 15 minutes on an approved motion, from 7:45 to 8:45am and featured Marc Jackson, Superintendent of Schools for Port Angeles.
Jackson shared his perspective on the future of the Port Angeles based North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center and participated in a Q&A with PABA members.
While nothing is final yet, Jackson told PABA there was a “strong possibility” the skills center will close following this school year.
Jackson said the skills center has been operating at a financial loss for a number of years – this year’s deficit is more than $390,000 – because of declining enrollment (it is supposed to have at least 150 students but only has about 70 this year) and a decision by the four other school districts on the Peninsula to no longer participate in the skills center because of student and financial concerns.
Jackson blamed the decrease in enrollment on new state mandates requiring students to have 24 academic credits, leaving little time for them to take elective programs at the skills center, especially if they were at the other four districts. he noted that the Port Angeles district is too small to operate the skills center alone.
He said some of the skills center classes (medical careers, welding, TV production) will move to Port Angeles High School, joining other vocational and technical classes there.
Peninsula College will take on the cosmetology program over the summer to get students as close to their certificates as possible, and options are being considered for students who will need more hours, Jackson said.
The Cultinary Arts instructor has accepted a position at Forks High School, Jackson said, adding it would have been difficult to move the program to Port Angeles High School.
Port of Port Angeles Commission Colleen McAleer told Jackson during the meeting that she felt there was a potential solution to save the skills center.
She said the district should study what jobs are available locally, increase equivalency credits and offer branch campuses for the skills center.
“I’d love to see the business community get involved,” McAleer said. “We’ve got to stop exporting our kids.”
Jackson said that no matter the fate of the skills center programs, the building, owned by Peninsula College and the Port Angeles School District, will continue to be used.
Exactly how it will be used is yet to be seen, but Jackson said there are ongoing discussions about how the building could be utilized for workforce training.
Jackson’s presentation and the Q&A were covered by Jesse Major of the Peninsula Daily News and Rich Erickson of KONP radio.
The KONP radio story, “PA school superintendent addresses the PABA on skills center closing,” can be read at konp.com/the_full_story.php?news_id=12567.
The PDN story, “Several Skills Center programs to survive – in a different place,” can be read at www.PeninsulaDailyNews.com/news/several-skills-center-programs-to-survive-in-a-different-place/.