HCC plans to handle GED, adult programs

November 24, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Adult education and literacy services that have been run through Washington County Public Schools for 25 years will be taken over by Hagerstown Community College beginning in January.

Sandra Blakeman, project director of adult education and literacy services for HCC, said beginning Jan. 1, the college will take over the General Educational Development, Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, Adult Secondary Education and External Degree programs.

David Warner, director of instruction for HCC, said the college expects to pick up about 300 students in the adult education classes that currently are offered through the school system.


Robert Beard, coordinator of alternative educational programs for the school system, said adult education programs are only a part of the school system's alternative educational program, which includes a dropout prevention program and Antietam Academy, an alternative high school.

All programs that serve students in grades kindergarten through 12 will remain with the school system, he said.

Beard said the possibility of HCC taking over the programs was raised less than a year ago as school systems across the country began to fall under the pressure of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The federal act is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students, including disadvantaged groups, are academically proficient.

'Hard to let go'

"I'm very proud of what we've done with adult education," he said.

He said in 2001, the school system had the highest General Educational Program graduation rate.

Beard, who's been working with adult educational programs since 1988, said school systems must change with their environments.

"I will not lie and say it's not hard to let go," he said, adding that workers in adult education take great pride in reaching troubled students.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said school system staff members approached her about talking with HCC President Guy Altieri about the idea, but she wouldn't comment further on the subject, other than to ask that questions be directed to Boyd Michael III, the school system's executive director of secondary education.

In January, HCC will take over the last six months of a grant that the school system used to provide the same services, Warner said.

For the first 11/2 years that the college runs the programs, it plans to use many of the same school system staff and present sites for instruction, but Warner said the college also will hold classes on the campus and at its Valley Mall site.

"Adults are less likely to want to go to an elementary or a high school (to finish their diplomas). We have adults around here on a regular basis," he said.

After the transition period, instructional positions will be opened competitively and the college will hold more of its programs at the college's sites, he said.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to take this on," Altieri said. "We're working hard to make it a seamless transition."

He said the state prefers local School Boards or community colleges to run adult educational programs instead of outside agencies. It's not uncommon for community colleges to run these programs, he said.

Warner said the hope is that once students receive their high school diplomas, they will enroll at HCC to begin work on their college degrees.

The transition is not a revenue-generating process, however, because the college plans to apply for the same types of grants the school system uses to provide services at no cost to students, he said.

"It's sort of a community service," Blakeman said.

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