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Job Corps faces hard times

Community leaders gathered to mingle with Timberlake Job Corps staff and students and partake in a brunch prepared by the Job Corp culinary arts students at Whispering Pines on Thursday, Sept. 26.

Drug Free Estacada Youth & Families (DEFY) Director Susie Tracy, Clackamas River Basin Council Environmental Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, Morgan Parks and representatives of other organizations spoke of their current undertakings. State Sen. Alan Olsen-R spoke as well.

Timberlake Job Corps Center Director Scott Olson stood to speak, despite saying that “he hadn’t prepared anything.”

“It’s a hard time for us,” he told the group.

Olson explained that the Job Corps’ 20-year partnership with the Estacada School District was ending.

The Estacada School Board had voted in August to terminate their alternative high school program at Timberlake Job Corps effective Sept. 30.

Job Corps students under the age of 21 who did not possess a high school diploma had counted as Estacada district students under the alternative high school program.

Estacada School District Superintendent Howard Fetz and School Board Chairman Rick Mudrow had explained that enrollment at the Job Corps no longer supported the necessary staff to keep the program going.

Olson called the termination of this program “one of the hits in a succession of hits” that the job corps is facing.

He explained that under its former partnership, the Estacada school district had provided Timberlake Job Corps with teachers, special education and administrative support and more.

“Losing those things in one swoop is pretty painful for us,” Olson said.

He said that while the Job Corps hopes to replace some of these resources they won’t be able to replace them all immediately.

Among other challenges, the Job Corps faces fewer students, a greatly reduced budget and less staff.

Some staff positions have been lost.

“All those things together have made things a little tough for us,” Olson said. “Hopefully our students haven’t felt that yet.”

Olson went on to describe the students’ contribution to the community through their work and volunteer efforts.

Olson told the crowd, “I don’t think there is any reason Job Corps is expected to close, it’s just changing.”

One woman said she’d be happy to “write a letter” if it would help.

Sen. Olsen asked if Olson knew of any state programs available to help the Job Corps.

Olson said there weren’t any that he knew of.



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