SAN MATEO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

ADULT EDUCATION: a Brief Financial History

Larry Teshara, Director

April 15, 2010

Since our founding in 1917 as San Mateo Adult Night School, the San Mateo Union High School District has long prided itself as one of the oldest and largest Adult Education programs in California.  Except for a brief hiatus in the 1950s when the program was run under the auspices of the San Mateo Community College District, our district has been providing a quality adult program for our communities for over eighty years.

Prior to July 1, 2009, Adult Education was provided a dedicated, protected funding mechanism from the state of California.  Like revenue limit school districts, Adult Schools were funded based on student attendance.  The state set a mandated “cap,” a maximum level at which state funds would be made available.   Our goal was to meet, but not exceed, that cap.  We experienced significant growth up until 1978 when, with the advent of Proposition 13 and subsequent legislation, our cap was reduced by almost one-third.

That 1978 cap determined the financial destiny of California Adult Schools for the next thirty years.  While serious program and staff reductions were made at that time, the state also adopted a growth formula wherein schools who met their cap were allocated a two to two and one-half percent annual growth factor for future years.  This served the SMUHSD exceptionally well.  While our overall population remained relatively stable and the high school population declined, the growth in both the immigrant and senior citizen communities was noteworthy.  Growth money enabled us to focus on direction on these emerging populations.  The last quarter century has seen the school become one of the state’s largest, serving up to 15,000 annually.  This represents more students than the combine enrollment of our San Mateo county counterparts.

Prudent fiscal planning and management enabled us to grow, prosper and save.  In 1993, funded by a loan from the district’s sale of the Foster City Marina HS property, plans were made for building our first central campus building the SMART Center.  This new facility opened in 1994 and provided a long need home to several important adult education programs: computer education, adult basic education, high school diploma, GED preparation; and central administration, that had previously been located in both district and leased facilities scattered throughout the district.  The $1.8 million dollar loan was repaid early, at prevailing interest rates, on March 9, 1998.

With the demolition of the old San Mateo High School, the district reclaimed the property behind the SMART Center that included the old portable classrooms used for our ESL program.  The district in turn made the larger space east of our main building available for our new classrooms.  The entire new wing of 16 classrooms and 4 support service rooms was completed in 2002 at a cost of $2.5 million paid entirely from Adult Education funds.  Subsequent improvements to the front parking lot and the purchase of three portable classrooms were also paid from that same source.

The San Mateo Adult School is now housed in one of the state’s premier Adult School facilities, all of which were paid from Adult Education revenues.  It is important to note that all of our physical plant was purchased, built and maintained by Adult Education funds.  No general fund money and no bond money have ever been used for our buildings and grounds.  Further, our Adult School program has never encroached on the SMUHSD general fund.  State lottery funds based on Adult ADA have gone to support the general fund and the Adult School pays an indirect service fee to the SMUHSD annually.  The San Mateo Adult School has long been a financial contributor to the San Mateo Union School District.