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Technical College System proposes solution to address shortcomings of amended FY '07 budget

POSTED: June 9, 2007 5:02 a.m.

Atlanta — The fiscal year ’07 amended budget left the needs of the Technical College System of Georgia unmet leading the TCS to consider furloughing adult literacy instructors.

An interruption in the June classes would have meant no education programs for the more than 68,000 literacy students who are currently enrolled throughout the state.

Leave without pay had been the likely option after the technical colleges sought but failed to receive $1.8 million in supplemental funding for the instructors’ salaries in the state’s mid-year 2007 budget.

The money, which was in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposed budget, was not included in final version as passed by the legislature.

To resolve the situation without furloughing instructors, each technical college president submitted a plan to Department of Technical and Adult Education Interim Commissioner Ron Jackson detailing how they would pay their literacy instructors’ June salaries.

The technical college system’s patchwork proposal includes using money from college foundations, donations from businesses and individuals, bookstore profits, and deferring local funds set aside for equipment purchases.

The college system exhausted its contingency funds and redirected other cash to provide for the instructors’ May salaries. The balance left the adult literacy program $915,000 in the red for the last 30 days of the fiscal year.

“Adult literacy is vital to Georgia because it changes lives and contributes to an educated workforce,” Jackson said.

“The solution we have proposed is far from perfect, but the FY ’07 amended budget left us with no other choice.

“I’m very grateful to our college presidents, their faculty and staff, the local college boards and all throughout the state who have enabled us to continue with uninterrupted literacy services.”

Savannah Technical College will make up a shortfall in adult literacy funding of $34,385 between now and June 30 using excess locally earned revenues from economic development and continuing education programs.

“Continuing adult literacy instruction is of critical importance to our community,” said STC President Dr. C.B. Rathburn. “Adult literacy is a cornerstone of our workforce development efforts and is often the beginning point for many students.”

Georgia’s adult literacy instructors educate more than 96,000 students annually and last year their efforts enabled almost 20,000 men and women to earn their GEDs.

While those numbers are substantial, there are more than 1.3 million adult Georgians who have less than a high school education.

Future literacy funding seems secure. The 2008 budget, which takes effect July 1 and is presently pending the governor’s signature, contains sufficient funding to keep all adult literacy personnel on the job in FY08.

There are 34 technical colleges in the system, with 31 additional branch campuses.

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