PITTSBURG -- Students who attend certain adult education classes through the Pittsburg Unified School District will pay higher fees starting with the summer quarter.
In addition, some classes, including mental fitness classes aimed at adults in long-term care facilities and classes for the visually impaired, will require a fee for the first time -- a substantial fee, in some cases under the transition plan that was approved Wednesday by a 3-0 vote of the board of trustees.
The new fee structure is in response to a state move to restructure adult education programs so that state funding is only spent on core areas: adult basic education, high school diploma and GED preparation, English as a second language, and career development, said Bob Beck, principal of the Pittsburg Unified's adult education center.
"The bottom line is that the (noncore) class has to pay for itself," through student fees he said at the meeting. "We've promised to do whatever we can to help (adult education), whether it's combining sessions into classes to make sure we can get the enrollment."
The new fee structure for the 51 noncore classes, which serve 2,500 to 3,000 students, has angered seniors and advocates for the disabled.
A free adaptive physical fitness class for the visually impaired, which is offered at the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired in Pittsburg, will now cost $183.
"There has never been a charge in the 30 years of the partnership," with the school district, Edward Schroth, executive director of the Lions Center, said on Thursday. "I think this effectively kills the partnership, and we will probably have to carry on utilizing volunteer (teachers) to assist the clients. It's going to change everything," he said.
The cost to take a chorus-line class will go from $25 to $173. The class results in Las Vegas-style numbers presented by the Black Diamond Senior Follies.
The higher fees are upsetting to Michele Dear, a 69-year-old Antioch resident who been part of the Black Diamond Senior Follies since 2007.
"It's extremely disappointing," said Dear, adding that a lot of people in the class are on fixed incomes and will not be able to afford the higher fee.
Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed that community colleges -- and not K-12 school districts -- should be responsible for adult education. While Pittsburg Unified officials don't think Brown's proposal has the legislative support to become a reality, Beck said that the district still has to go through with the new fee structure included in the district's transition plan for its adult education program.
The plan is intended to comply with a recommendation from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's office released in December 2012. The idea is to limit state funding to the core areas.
The noncore classes that will be impacted are 12 weeks long. Most meet once a week and are given at various locations. The new fee structure is based on an average enrollment of 15 students in a class and will start with the summer quarter that starts June 10 and continue through the 2013-2014 school year.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/eastcounty_girl.