The federal government plans to close a Job Corps training center in southwestern Oklahoma after it received the lowest performance indicators in the country.
Treasure Lake Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Indiahoma is the only center targeted for closure following a review by the Labor Department. The center, which is in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, is one of four Job Corps centers in Oklahoma.
Job Corps programs are residential centers for 16-to-24 year olds. The programs provide economically disadvantaged youth with academic, career and technical skills to enter the workforce, enroll in higher education, or enlist in the military.
The Labor Department, in a notice this week in the Federal Register, said Treasure Lake was the lowest performing center from 2008 to 2012 and would be closed.
The department is taking public comments on the closure plans until Sept. 26.
“Chronic underperformance in a center, despite repeated and varied efforts by the department to improve its performance, is a circumstance that cannot be allowed to persist,” the department said in the closure notice. “Closing such a center not only allows the program to better serve the nation’s youth in acquiring career skills through quality job training, but also results in a more effective use of the program’s resources.”
The director of Treasure Lake did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday. The center has space for up to 180 students.
Future for students
The department said Job Corps students in a chronically low-performing center will have the opportunity to either complete their training and graduate while the center remains open or transfer to a higher-performing center if they need additional time to complete their training.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn highlighted poor Job Corps performance in a 2012 report on government waste in job-training programs.
“The bulk of job-training funding is spent on youth, with the most expensive youth program, Job Corps, accounting for $36 million of Oklahoma’s job training funding — about 20 percent of all job-training funding in Oklahoma — despite serving fewer Oklahomans than many programs,” Coburn’s report said.
Other Job Corps centers in Oklahoma are in Tahlequah, Guthrie and Tulsa. Nationwide, Job Corps trains more than 60,000 students at 125 centers.