July 25, 2008

Adult-Literacy Overhaul Leaves Educator Short

By Sarah Pulliam, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Jul. 25--Cheryl Hagerty helped hundreds of adults land jobs for nearly 30 years, but now she's the one job-hunting.

Hagerty spent 16 years helping adults improve literacy skills during her time as coordinator of Union County's Adult Basic and Literacy Education, but county commissioners recently pulled about $50,000 from the program to give to other adult-education programs.

Yesterday, commissioners met with state ABLE representatives and decided to give Ohio Hi-Point Career Center the leftover $26,000 grant from the state.

The grant runs through 2009, and Hagerty had expected at least one more year as coordinator before moving the program to a new office. If Hagerty had been able to stay one more year, she also would have qualified for retirement.

"I feel that my contribution to the success of the program is not being acknowledged," she said. "My time wasn't valued because they weren't willing to consider the position for one more year when the money was available."

The average cost per student is about $1,200, which is much higher than most counties' programs because Union County's devotes more hours to each student.

Ohio Hi-Point was the most likely entity to receive the state's grant because the center already runs an evening literacy program, said Denise Pottmeyer, the state's director of ABLE.

"It makes good sense, so we're going there to iron out the details of that transfer," Pottmeyer said. "(The county will) probably end up with more services with the merger because they'll have less administrative costs."

Pottmeyer said that most of the literacy programs are run through schools or career centers. The Union County program was the only one in the state that received money from county commissioners.

Commissioner Tom McCarthy said the county will still put about $10,000 into ABLE, but freeing the rest of the money will allow the county to expand its career-development programs, especially when the county needs more health-care professionals.

"The program is going to be offered in the same locations with same operation, so from the public's point of view, there won't be a disruption in service," McCarthy said.

Hagerty can apply for jobs that might open at Hi-Point, but she thinks they will be part-time. She is still concerned about the future of the program, which serves about 50 students a year and will continue at its current location at 940 London Ave. in Marysville.

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