15 August 2012
After the drastic million-dollar budget cuts to Fluvanna County Public Schools in May, one of first the programs cut was Adult Education. The elimination included Families Learning Together, which educates parents in order to help their young children succeed in school. But Gayle Von Keyserling and Mary Ott, who ran the program, couldn’t bear to say goodbye to the people they had come to love and know.
“We couldn’t let go of the parents, pull the rug out from under them, it wasn’t fair,” said Von Keyserling. “We are not dead, we are going to continue.”
Families Learning Together will operate this year three days a week on grants from BB&T Bank, Wells Fargo, Bama Works and Dollar General.
Unfortunately, Fluvanna’s local cuts came at the same time that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) eliminated federal and state funding for adult education in Fluvanna County. The VDOE put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for another entity to absorb adult education in Fluvanna County.
The Adult Learning Center in Charlottesville, applied for the RFP and was awarded it. Fluvanna will now be included in the newly formed Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education (TJ ACE), which will administer any future federal and state funding.
“We also seek additional funding for places in the region, and certainly Fluvanna County, which is at the top of the list because they did lose funding,” said Susan Erno, Program Coordinator at the Adult Learning Center.
“Families Learning Together … is such an outstanding program. I don’t know anywhere in the state that has anything as remotely similar or as effective as they are.”
Before budget cuts, the program served a total of 60 adults, and included preparation for the General Education Development (GED) test, computer skills and home visits.
“It’s the most heartening thing that I’ve heard in a long time that this adult literacy program is coming back,” said school board member Carol Tracy Carr. “When we were making those budget cuts, it was like cutting up your child. It shows that we can be creative.”
But not everyone on the school board was pleased that adult education will have to operate on grants alone.
“That may be what our board of supervisors may want, but it is at a great personal sacrifice to keep that program going,” said school board member William Hughes, acknowledging that Von Keyserling and Ott will be volunteering much of their time to keep costs down. “We need a sustainable budget.”