Venice Skills Center Still Fighting for Survival

By Charles Thomas

Things are heating up again for the Venice Skills Center during the coming month. The LAUSD school board is expected to address the crucial budget issue on or about May 15.  As you may be aware, the school board (in its March meeting) voted to slash all funding for adult education.  If this budget decision stands, then this would mean closure of our Skills Center.  However, there is optimistic talk between the board and school superintendent and on closer scrutiny of the budget, something may be worked out.  Depending on negotiations with labor unions and the almost $200 million of recently discovered funds that the superintendent seems to think could keep adult ed afloat, we may have a better prognosis for the Skills Center’s survival.


In the meantime, an exciting development has occured, namely that the school district has launched an incentive program to share our ideas on where the district can save money.  The program is called the 2012 My Bright Idea Challenge.

All those affiliated with LAUSD (as students, employees and parents) can write a proposal to change what they see as wasteful spending. Ideas and proposals are submitted electronically via the program’s website at

Prizes will be awarded to the winning ideas. Three different winners will be chosen in each category of student, employee or parent. Trophies will be awarded to the winners and $3,000 will go to the winner’s school of choice. A private funder is sponsoring the cash awards.

In addition to the Skills Center, a number of other schools within the LAUSD school system located in Venice (Venice High, Westminster Elementary, Broadway Elementary, Animo Venice Charter High School, Coeur D’Alene Elementary, Westminster Early Education Center, Animo Westside Charter Middle School,Westminster Computer Science/Math Magnet) would qualify for prize money.

A special panel will evaluate the ideas and proposals submitted. You must submit your idea by May 11, so this is a “time sensitive” chance to let our voices be heard in a meaningful way. Please put on your thinking cap and visit the “My Bright Idea” web page. Please get crackin’.

Before the next onslaught of rallies (as we approach the mid-May school board decisions) this is also a time to take a moment and appreciate the Skills Center for its positive contribution (if you weren’t already aware).  You can find out more about what really goes on at the Skills Center and adult education sites in general by visiting

This inspirational page is a personal glimpse of selected students and their testimonials as to how adult ed changed their lives.  Some of the faces I recognize as continuing students. Others attesting therein have gone on to impressive re-entry in the career world gathering skills in computers, graphic design and electrical power line mechanics.

Rich Mann is a fine art photographer who earned his GED through adult ed which allowed him to go on to degree programs with acclaimed art schools. Jean De Latallide began a successful web design business from his home thanks to the knowledge he picked up at the Venice Skills Center.

Ryan Murphy of the Emerson Adult Learning Center attended the pharmacy tech program and now is a licensed technician.  Please see the other personal glimpses for a fuller understanding of the importance of adult ed, and why it is important that we do rally and make our concerns heard.

Speaking of rallies, a rally and protest is tentatively planned for the Venice area on or about May 5.  Details have not been finalized, but should be available soon on either one of two websites to keep you in the loop on adult ed.  Those sites are and  Please turn out on Cinco de Mayo so we can all raise our voices together.  I hope to see you.    b

Categories: Education, Venice