VOX POPULI: What’s Up at GKCAS?

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By IKU KIRIYAMA

If you drive by Gardena High School, on the corner of Normandie and 182nd Street, you will still see the sign up for George Kiriyama Community Adult School (GKCAS).

What’s happening, you might ask. J.K. (Yamamoto, Rafu reporter) emailed me a few months back asking that question. Coincidentally, at the same time, I was asking the same question of a friend who now has a position at Beaudry (location of the LAUSD central offices and Board of Education in Los Angeles).

LAUSD old-timers remember all the different names used as the district reconfigured every few years: areas, regions, clusters, districts, with the numbers changing each time. When I last worked for LAUSD, I was at the District K office, which became District 8, on Magnolia off of Normandie in Gardena.

Now, there are four Educational Service Centers (ESC), which are geographic areas, and one Intensive Support and Innovation Center (ISIC), which services all schools in the LAUSD that need the most help. The old District 8 office is now ESC South.

OK … so, GKCAS is in ESC South … No, it is and it isn’t. The adult division has always been a separate entity with its own budget. Called the Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE), all adult centers form one unit, from north to south and east to west; even though they share the geographic spaces of K-12 schools, they are separate.

Financial problems for DACE were exacerbated with the budgetary woes of K-12. Once protected as categorical funding, the monies of DACE were taken out of categorical and placed in the general fund, to be used by ALL schools, even though monies were generated by DACE. Showing the general ignorance of adult ed from top to bottom in K-12, teachers at Gardena High blamed the GKCAS teachers for the threats to their positions — when it was actually the opposite.

DACE is operating at 50 percent, which means class offerings are at 50 percent of the original level. However, this is considerable, as other school districts have had to make more severe cuts.

All adult classes are now fee-based, where once ESL and gerontology (older adult) were free, mandated by the state.

Adult schools in the south area are now under two sections: Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center and the Harbor Service Area. GKCAS is a branch of Maxine Waters EPC. Gardena Valley JCI, which used to be one of the sites for older adult classes through GKCAS, is now under Maxine Waters. The former principal of GKCAS, when it was closing, is now an assistant principal at Maxine Waters and oversees the classes at the branch GKCAS.

George Kiriyama Community Adult School barely existed one year, no longer standing as an independent school but a branch. The signs didn’t even have a chance to get dirty.

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Iku Kiriyama worked for LAUSD as a high school English/Japanese teacher for nine years, 22 years in DACE in ESL, Japanese, gerontology, citizenship, adult basic ed; two years as teacher advisor for the Human Relations Education Commission; and five years as Title I teacher advisor in the District 8 office. The comments expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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