In the past three years, the program — which includes adult basic education, adult secondary education and English as a Second Language classes — has seen state funds cut by $131,655, said Susan Hackney, vice president of adult education at GNTC.
“That represents about two and a half full time teachers,” she said. “That’s a lot of money for us.”
However, a displaced worker grant that comes from federal stimulus funds has helped, Hackney said. When unemployment numbers increased, many workers returned to school. The federal money helps with the increase in students.
“But there is a caveat to that,” Hackney said. “You can’t supplant state money with federal money. If we have a full-time teacher being paid by state funds we couldn’t hire them under federal money.”
Funding for literacy programs is based on the educational level of the community, Hackney said. That means communities with higher illiteracy rates will get more funding.
“Our federal funding is high because we have so much work to do,” Hackney said.
About 4,000 students are currently enrolled in adult education classes throughout Georgia Northwestern Technical College, Hackney said.
Many local school boards support the programs and “that makes a difference for us,” Hackney said.
And despite the fact that local school boards have also been hit with budget cuts, Hackney said the adult education program has only lost a little bit of support from the boards.
“We have been holding our own,” Hackney said of the budget situation.
But the federal stimulus money will run out this year and that will leave a funding gap.
“That money was a stabilizing force for us,” she said.
Georgia Northwestern’s adult learning center in Calhoun is located at the college’s Gordon County campus. For more information call 706-295-6917.