The GED program held at the Fairmont Community Center is not being funded because of low turnout.
Judy Cook Snyder, interim head of the GED program at Southern Crescent Technical College, said participation had decreased from 15, to 10 and only five for last class, which ended in January. Snyder said the program at Fairmont was not included in the most recent grant request because of that low turnout.
“We know there are students we are not reaching. We’d love to reach those students but the budget is busting,” Snyder told the Education Prosperity Initiative last week.
EPI Chairperson Jewell Walker-Harps said “there were some concerns about myths about instructors’ concerns about coming here.”
Snyder said there had been one instance when someone walked in on a class, but the reason was the cost of the instructor is not covered based on the number of participants.
“It does not warrant the cost of a part-time instructor,” Snyder said. “We are not opposed to having it here, but there are four different locations in Spalding County already,” she said, and only two in Henry County. The other locations are on campus at Southern Crescent Technical College, at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus, Griffin First Assembly and at Spalding County Correctional Institute.
Overall, she said “the numbers in adult education are down this year, and when the numbers are down, the budget is cut. The majority of our cost is instructors. We have to have enough students to fund an instructor.”
Snyder said the last instructor even went door-to-door in the area to recruit students. She did admit there was concern about lack of security at Fairmont, and it has been difficult trying to secure an instructor. “The perception has been we want the instructor and students to feel safe,” but she said “enrollment is the issue. The state is looking at cost. Five students does not justify the cost.”
Snyder said SCTC “would be able to assist with testing and materials, if the Collaborative can fund the cost of an instructor.”
Another option suggested was providing transportation for students to the other locations at UGA-Griffin, Southern Crescent or First Assembly. The programs at UGA-Griffin, First Assembly and SCCI are funded by a different grant, this one from Certified Literate Community.
She said attendance was also down at the First Assembly site, with five active students, but 47 served for the year. There have been 58 served at UGA-Griffin, with between 15 and 20 per class; 58 at SCCI — but that is for the inmates. Overall, she said the GED program serves about 1,700 in its nine-county area, with 642 total through Southern Crescent campuses.
The nine-county service area includes Spalding, Butts, Henry, Taylor, Jasper, Fayette, Pike, Upson, Lamar and Meriwether counties. As interim, Snyder said she cannot make a decision as the budget was submitted before she was named interim, and the new vice-president over the program starts July 1.
There is some scholarship funding for the tests, paid by the Griffin Housing Authority, but scholarships for Spalding County students to take the class have already been depleted for this year.
The cost for the instructor, part-time, about six hours a week, is between $15 to $19 an hour, depending on the level of the class. They are paid for six hours a week, plus another 20 percent for planning time, about $100 a week on average, Snyder said. “We are also looking for part-time instructors for the classes.”
Griffin Housing Authority CEO Bob Dull also questioned the recent changes in the rules. Snyder said from 2002 to 2014 it was the same test, if you passed all but math, you could retake just that and credit for the rest carried over, “but that all disappeared on Jan. 1, 2014.”
She explained with the new test, those who had not completed all of former one, “had to start all over.”
She said the pass rate in Georgia is fourth in the country, “we just wish we could get attendance up.”
She suggested getting a list of interested students, and taking that to the new vice president. “Is there any way you could get transportation to the other sites, to get them started?”
The next classes start in July, and all information for dates and times is on the SCTC website, sctech.edu under adult education.
Walker-Harps said, “we are not going to drop this. We are not going backward. We will take this to the new vice president.”
Snyder said, “I hope you are able to work out a partnership.”