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Adult Ed funds run dry

Adult Ed has high graduation rates for non-traditional students.

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The lack of securing a federal grant that usually supports adult education in Carbon County for the next two years will put a real damper on what the program can do for nontraditional students, Adult Education Coalition Committee members were told on Tuesday morning.

"Our money for these programs is almost gone from what we had in the past," said Karlene Bianco, the director of adult education for the Carbon School District. "We have enough to barely float the program through this year, but with the loss of the grant we are down to 20 percent of the money we usually have for it."

Carbon's adult education program has often been cited as one of the best in the state, with high graduation rates and the ability of those who run the program working in a very cooperative way with such agencies as Adult Probation and Parole, the Division of Workforce Services, Vocational Rehabilitation and other support groups.

"When I go to meetings at the state people are always amazed that we can all work together so well," said Deanna Sweet, who retired from the district last year after working with the program and now serves part time as a counselor at the Lighthouse. "They don't seem to be able to do that in the more populated areas of the state."

The cuts affect a lot of things in the program, but nothing more than it has the ABC Learning Center in East Carbon. That program was already in jeopardy because the teacher who was handling the classes there had decided not to do it this year anyway. But hiring anyone else to take over is now impossible because of the lack of funds.

"We really regret having to close that program, but we had little choice considering the situation," said Bianco.

But the budget woes are also even bigger than just losing the federal dollars because the state has also changed the way they give funding to the program. In the past the payoff from the state was heavy on the side of GED/adult high school diploma funding. That formula has been changed and now funding will be judged by a number of factors. Money will come from the following factors:

*25 percent will come from how many students are enrolled.

*20 percent will come from the program being able to show level gains or the progress of students in the program.

*18 percent will come from the total contact hours the student has with the classes being held (There will be no funding for any students who have less than 12 hours of contact time. That basically cuts out credit time for funding for testing and evaluation which still has a cost because someone must be paid to do it,)

*17 percent will be based on students who actually achieve a GED/diploma.

*Nine percent will come from the credits earned by students in the programs.

*The remaining 11 percent is provided by a base given to all adult education programs.

Bianco said the program will be operating on about $59,000 this year, but next year they will only have about $49,000.

"This all means that testing to see what students have achieved and attendance by students enrolled will become all important," stated Bianco. "The fact is that the basic Utah program is already very minimal at meeting federal targets anyway."

Despite this gloom and doom about money the program passed an audit by the state last year that produced few negative comments or corrections that needed to be made.Bianco said the program got "zinged" a little concerning testing scores, which affected some reporting numbers. Otherwise it was pretty positive.

Because of the lack of funds, fees for adult attendees will go up this year. For individuals the cost will go up from $25 to $50. Agencies that use the program will have to pay $100.

The federal funding for the program comes in a two year block, so the district hasn't lost it forever. The district isn't alone either. At least 20 other adult education programs in Utah were denied funds this year as well, with only a few getting funding.

"We'll get through this, we always do. It's just a roller coaster ride right now as to what we can do for the next couple of years," concluded Bianco.




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