A coalition of community leaders held a press conference Tuesday, in order to protest what it said has been the defunding of the Rochester City School District’s Office of Adult Career Educational Services (OACES).
UCLM president Rev. Lewis Stewart, the leader of the group, said approximately $1.2 million dollars has been cut from the program.
“This financial deprivation will have an adverse impact on young adult students, their families, and the community as a whole,” Stewart stated.
RCSD currently runs OACES, which is a workforce preparation program serving both adults and young adults that provides education and employment training.
Last year, fifteen hundred people participated in the program, and, according to Stewart, the funding cuts may leave 560 people without the opportunity to participate in the program going forward.
He urged the community to support the program by pushing city and school board officials to restore the budget.
“OACES offers a disenfranchised population a true career ladder earning a livable wage,” Stewart stated. “If we desire to give people a hand up and not a hand out, then support OACES. If we desire to put a dent in systemic poverty, then support OACES.”
Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanksi also spoke in support of restoring the funds Tuesday.
“A budget of nearly $1 billion can certainly spare another million or two for this critical function,” Urbanski stated.
OACES is funded through state grants, as well as a portion of the city school district’s budget. It would take four votes from school board members to restore the funds.
In response to the press conference, RCSD has released the following statement regarding the matter:
“As part of the 2016-17 budget process, the district decided to fund adult education programs through available grants, without additional funds from the general budget. We worked to minimize the impact on students as much as possible, by maintaining high-school equivalency (TASC) courses for adults and 8 out of 12 work-based training programs. We have coordinated with partners to ensure that a wide range of work-based education opportunities will remain available to adults in Rochester through OACES, and other community agencies.”