THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
MONROE — An outreach program that offers tutoring and the opportunity for Monroe County residents to earn a GED will close its doors June 26 unless unexpected funding is secured.
For nearly two years, the Monroe County Learning Bank has been dodging closure because of insufficient funding. This year it has kept running with an emergency $50,000 state grant and support from Monroe County Community College, which cannot afford the $10,000 monthly cost.
Cherie Reed, director of adult education and enrichment services at Bedford Public Schools, said the closure will leave Monroe County with only two locations for adult education: Bedford schools and Orchard Center High School in Monroe, a cooperative effort of the Monroe Public Schools and Mason Consolidated Schools.
“There’s a population that isn’t being served,” she said. “It was a pilot program, and it really followed all the new initiatives in education.”
The learning bank was started in 2009 with a $300,000 federal grant, administered by Michigan, to MCCC. It received financial assistance from the college and area companies and organizations, including $14,000 from Monroe Bank and Trust, which also provides free space and utilities in its former bank branch in the Orchard East neighborhood at 1102 E. Front St.
Ms. Reed and the Bedford schools played an integral role in launching the learning bank program, drawing on their expertise in writing grant applications and offering adult education services.
MCCC President David Nixon said he would make a last-ditch appeal to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday, but did not expect the strapped county to come up with the $100,000 needed for another year.
“We have been totally emotionally committed, and we are not happy to get no support from the state of Michigan,” he said, adding that there are 10,000 to 15,000 adults in Monroe County without a high school diploma or GED.
He said he suspected Monroe County was overlooked by the state because it is so close to Detroit and Wayne County, where the need for adult education assistance is much greater. Ironically, Mr. Nixon noted, his plea to the commissioners will come on the same day the Learning Bank honors its final graduating class at a ceremony at the community college’s main campus.
Ms. Reed said the program drew students of all ages, “18 to 70 years old.” Since the program’s inception, 83 students have earned their GED. About 75 percent have gone on to college, according to data provided by MCCC; the typical transfer rate is 12 percent.
Ms. Reed said this is a time of change in adult education. Students must complete the five parts of the GED program by mid-December or start all over next year with new tests. “We’re in a crunch,” she said. “We have a summer program starting July 1, and people have to register now. We’ll take registrations until the start date.”