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SBCC plans to launch free adult education program by next fall

AUSTIN P. AMBROSE, Channels Staff

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The Santa Barbara City College administration will launch a new adult education program next fall that will create pathways for students to earn an associate’s degree by taking free non-credit classes.

The program will be called the School of Extended Learning. City College Superintendent-President Dr. Anthony Beebe has advocated for the school and believes that it will provide an invaluable service to the Santa Barbara community. Although a lot is still unknown as planning still continues, the program could offer classes in the fields of auto tech, ceramics, culinary arts, and more.

City College had a very robust free adult education program that was recently converted from a free program into a fee-based one. Beebe believes it’s time for the college to switch back.

“What we’ve decided to do is reinstate those classes that are funded by the state and offer them to the community free of charge,” said Beebe.

Every year the California legislature sets aside a lot of money specifically to subsidize adult education classes. By offering these classes, the school is able to provide quality education to the Santa Barbara community without spending a cent.

The administration is currently working on course outlines for the adult education classes it hopes to add next year. When they’re finished, the outlines will be sent off to the state in order to receive the funding for those classes.

“It’s a win for everybody,” said Beebe. “It’s a win for the students, it’s a win for the community, it’s a win for the financial side of the College to help support other things that we’re trying to accomplish.”

Most of the program’s classes will be taught on the City College Schott and Wake campuses, but some may be offered at the main campus as well. The college is also looking to hire more full-time faculty to teach the classes.

Like other non-credit programs at City College, students don’t need to meet any criteria to join. Anyone who is willing and able to take the classes can enroll. Unlike other non-credit programs, however, the School of Extended Learning will allow students to work towards a degree by first taking free non-credit introductory courses.

“For some folks, they may feel like ‘Gosh do I really belong in college?’ or ‘Can I make it,’” Marsha Croninger, president of the Board of Trustees, said.

This system allows people to take non-credit classes that still put them on the right path to earning an associate’s degree. This will help continuing students “gain confidence and feel encouragement from faculty and staff to make that transition,” she said.

Earlier this year, Beebe introduced the program to the City College Board of Trustees. The School of Extended learning received such a strong backing from the board members that a formal vote may not even be taken.

“I don’t think we need to vote,” Croninger said. “The board is very supportive of the idea and has long been supportive of non-credit.”

There is a very rich history of adult education and service to the Santa Barbara community at City College. It’s one that Beebe hopes to see revived by this program in the near future.

“Some years ago we had the model non-credit program in the country. When that was done away with, the community members were really upset about it. To bring back that stature and those classes is really important to me,” said Beebe “It’s important to the College, it’s important to the trustees, and it’s important to me.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “SBCC plans to launch free adult education program by next fall”

  1. Carol on February 24th, 2017 7:49 pm

    This is good news. It’s interesting that the very same trustees moved to end the Adult Ed program just a few short years ago, under the “direction” of Dr. Gaskin. Marsha Croninger was one of the strongest and most vocal supporters of cutting the program. Now that the college needs money – meaning more students – she is singing a different tune. That said, I am glad to see the college is doing this. Thank you, Dr. Beebe!

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SBCC plans to launch free adult education program by next fall