VINELAND — School officials are examining ways to maintain parts of the adult education program, which the defeated school budget called for eliminating.

School board members have talked with Vineland Adult Education Center Principal Joe Camardo about ways to preserve courses focusing on English as a second language, general equivalency diploma (GED) testing and New Jersey Youth Corps, board member Anthony Fanucci said Wednesday.

"They seem to have the most significant impact," said Fanucci, the board's finance committee chairman. "Whenever we hear from people asking not to cut something, those are the programs we hear the most about. I don't disagree. I think the public is right."

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Fanucci's committee discussed adult education's prospects during a meeting Monday and will likely to do so again as they evaluate funding options for the work.

Vineland's proposed $190 million school budget calls for cutting the adult education program and 82 jobs. Voters rejected that budget last month, and adult education students and teachers, as well as employers, have pressed to maintain the program.

Rich Giannini, 68, said he went to the school to get his GED after he was laid off as a truck driver. After 50 years as a taxpayer, he said the GED program "was worth every tax dollar I ever paid."

"I've been working for 50 years," Giannini said. "This is the first time I've been without a job."

Steven Bowers, a computer technician for the school district, told board members that he was a success story of the Adult Education Center, having gone there for retraining after working for years as a truck driver.

"Many of the students that we deal with have worked their whole life," said Richard Boone, an instructor in the program. "They find themselves in a situation where their jobs have left.

"This," Boone said, "is the time when people need to be retrained."

Natalie Bermudez, 17, said she got the attention from teachers at the Adult Education Center that she didn't get at other public schools.

"In the New Jersey Youth Corps, the teachers actually pay attention to us," Bermudez said.

Camardo said he hopes to present a few scenarios to board members on how to preserve parts of the program, which has suffered state funding cuts initiated by Gov. Chris Christie.

On the flipside, some, such as local resident Lee Burke, said the board should work with city council to cut as much as possible from the school budget to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Among other changes in that regard was the board's near-unanimous vote to change vice principal positions from 12-month positions to 10-month positions. Only Scott English dissented, while fellow board member Brian DeWinne was absent from the meeting.

That vote is expected to prompt the union representing school district supervisors to file an unfair labor practices complaint with the state. Tom McCann, a principal who heads the union, said before the vote that any such move requires negotiation prior to the change, not after it, as board members are seeking to do.

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