As of July 1, the Grayson County Board of Education will cease to operate the Grayson County Adult Education Program.
The program, as it currently exists, includes GED assistance, special needs programs, English as a Second Language, family literacy instruction and other educational and developmental opportunities free of charge for area residents and detainees at the Grayson County Detention Center.
The program has been funded until this point by a yearly grant of approximately $240,000 from Kentucky Adult Education, according to Director of Finance Kerry White, with the school board; however, Program Director Sheila Meredith confirmed that the grant for the 2012-2013 school year was not approved.
When asked what the grounds were for not awarding the grant, Meredith stated, “there was no explanation given that I know of,” however, paperwork from KYAE explains that the decision for their disapproval was due to a “very poorly written” proposal.
The review team recommended that more time should have been put into the proposal, expanding on the areas that justify awarding the grant.
Of 200 possible scoring points, the proposal scored 115, or 57.5 percent.
The proposal received low ratings in ‘staff quality,’ due almost exclusively to the fact that the local program director spends only 25 percent of the workweek dealing with the Adult Education program.
According to the review team’s recommendations, they favor models which include program directors who “work 100 percent of their time in the program either as a full-time director or a full-time program director/instructor,” and recommend that at least 50 percent of the program director’s job be “specifically Adult Education.”
Meredith said on Friday morning that the school board felt that there was no way to allocate that many hours for an Adult Education Program Director.
Also cited by the grant review team was a lack of “documentation or clarification,” giving “very little information,” and “poor reasoning.”
It was recommended by the review committee that references to staff members’ ages not be included in the proposal, and it was noted that “younger staff does not necessarily equate to less absenteeism or professional ethics.”
There were also some positive comments from the KYAE review team on areas of the proposal, but unfortunately the overall score was such that the team could not award the grant again this year to the board.
When contacted about the resulting loss of the program, Meredith explained that Elizabethtown Technical and Community College intends to pick up the program where the Board of Education leaves off at the beginning of July.
“No one should worry that there’s not going to be that service provided in this county,” Meredith said, continuing on to add, “I’m confident that that transition from the Board of Education being the fiscal agent to ECTC being the fiscal agent will go as smooth as possible. I don’t think there will be any break in service at all. That’s our goal.”
“It’s gonna be better with ECTC,” Meredith said.
Jack Dilbeck, a representative at ECTC, who is currently in charge of the program’s planning and would continue to be in charge of funding, explained that the college is in the process of revising a grant application to receive the funding to take over the Grayson County Adult Education program.
If all goes well, ECTC will step in at the beginning of July, implementing a one-week break in classes in order to settle in, before continuing on with services at the Leitchfield location and the detention center.
“Our number one goal is to ensure our students that there will be no disruption of service,” Dilbeck said. “We care very much about the students in Grayson County and we want to make sure that they are not disrupted. We want them to be able to continue as they have in the past so that they can be successful in acquiring their GED or training or whatever it is they need for better jobs.”
Dilbeck explained that at this point, he is not able to say whether or not the program’s seven instructors will still have their jobs in two weeks, because if the grant is approved, it may bring with it some different financial limitations.
He explained that, “we will have a full time director, but how that will play out yet, I’m not at liberty to say.”
When asked about the additional services the program has previously provided aside from GED assistance, Dilbeck’s answer was much the same: it all depends on the limitations laid out once the grant is approved.
“We do have a plan,” he said, but went on to explain that the specifics cannot be released until all of the variables are in place.
Bo Thorpe, Adult Education Coordination with the detention center, said, “I felt like the service we were getting out there was very good,” and continued on to say, “I’m assuming [ECTC is] going to want to provide the same level of service to us as Grayson County did.”
Thorpe is a believer that getting a GED will positively impact not only the lives of the inmates who have the chance to obtain one through such programs, but the entire community as well. He explained that in addition to keeping people out of jail, it can save the detention center a lot of money that might otherwise be spent on housing that inmate for later offenses, if they were not able to obtain work.
“I feel bad that Grayson County is not going to be responsible for the program anymore,” Thorpe said, “because that is something that a county school system should provide if they’re able to provide it.”
Some others who have seen the impact of the Adult Education program’s other efforts, like the family literacy classes provided at the Parent-Child Center, are becoming worried that these programs might cease to exist after this month, even if ECTC is able to take over the GED portion of the program.
LaShawn Hack, at the Parent-Child Center said of the programs offered there now, “that was the resource that we used in Grayson County when we worked with families and they needed adult literacy skills, reading help, computer literacy skills. They also did family literacy programs with children and parents.”
Hack said that at any given time, there were about ten to twelve parents participating in the program.
“That’s one of the ways we work with families to try to improve their self-sufficiency,” she explained, adding that these initiatives significantly increase the ability these parents have to find jobs to sustain their families.
They also allow them to “have an impact on their own child’s education,” by helping them become more comfortable working with their kids and their teachers and giving them a sense of accomplishment, Hack explained.
Now, she worries that no local program will exist, and feels that those taking advantage of it here will be much less likely to participate if they have to go out of the county. “When it’s right here at their back door, that removes one of the barriers,” Hack said.
Dilbeck, who said that the grant proposal on which they are working is due June 29, expects to know within the coming weeks exactly what the community college will have to work with in regards to the program, and is hoping to be able to release more detailed information at that point.