TORRANCE, Calif. — A Torrance school established in the 1960s is in danger of closing forever.
COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped, however the problems started years ago when the school stopped getting money directly from the State of California.
The school offers specialty courses and training at the Southern California Regional Occupational Center. Only classes for essential careers have returned in person at the SoCal ROC, which is a technical school where high schoolers and adults can come, take classes, and walk into entry-level jobs.
Jeffrey Giovenco is in a welding one class. He’s a high school graduate looking for his way in life.
“I feel like it will be a good career path. If I don’t choose to go career path wise it would be a good tool to have on my belt. It’s fun to learn,” said Giovenco.
Jenyfel Gorre is studying dental assisting. She tried a traditional four year school and when that didn’t work out she weighed her alternative schooling options. The deciding factor was price.
“I don’t think I would have been able to really try out my interest in the dental field if it weren’t for this school,” said Gorre.
Superintendent Dr. Atlas Helaire says the school is running out of money.
Six nearby school districts pay to send high school students to SoCal ROC: Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified, Manhattan Beach Unified, Englewood Unified, Redondo Beach Unified, El Segundo Unified, and Torrance Unified. Dr. Helaire says each district sends less than 20 students.
Yet high schoolers are not allowed on campus due to the pandemic so that means almost all the money is coming from adults paying enrollment fees.
The number of students is dwindling.
“We’ve had to basically continuously try to prove our worth, showing people that this program is worth being here and is very valuable for the students,” said Dr. Helaire.
If the school shuts down, Dr. Helaire says the future of the property and all the expensive equipment is uncertain. Plus students might have to drive a long way to find similar programs.
For a technical school in trouble, time is money and it’s ticking away fast.
The school looked into alternative funding sources. Dr. Helaire says they received a $10 million grant from the California Department of Finance. It was paid out over four years and Dr. Helaire says it was what kept them from closing during the 2018-2019 school year.