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Cuts called devastating to adult education programs

As Adult Education and Literacy Week kicks off Sept. 23, one local educator doesn’t see much to celebrate right now.

North Central Adult Education teacher James Kirkendoll said state and federal budget cuts have resulted in the loss of two classroom teachers/paraprofessionals, one each in Clinton and Leslie.

“We’re here to serve the people,” Kirkendoll said, but that’s harder to do when the total budget has been cut almost $50,000, which he said is about 25 percent of last year’s budget.

He said hours have been reduced each day and there are no longer classes on Fridays. The school year has been reduced from 190 days to 171 days, he said.

“This is devastating to our programs,” Kirkendoll said in a news release. “Can you name any other school system or governmental agency that took such a budget cut?”

The centers in Clinton and Marshall served 190 residents the last school year, he said.

Kirkendoll said the program graduated 59 students in May 2013. That, he said, compares to 31 Shirley High grads in 2013, 30 at South Side-Bee Branch, 55 at Marshall High School, and 93 at Clinton.

The center offers classes on subjects such as computer skills, English as a Second Language, and literarcy programs, as well as GED preparation programs.

Kirkendoll said the state isn’t concerned about little counties such as Van Buren and Searcy. He has sent letters to state legislators, officials with Career Education and even the governor, but as of Monday, he had received no response. Kirkendoll is also a member of the Van Buren County Quorum Court.

Kirkendoll is asking for help from the public in contacting state officials asking them to restore the adult education program’s budget. He said concerned citizens are welcome to call him at 745-6554 or Mary Kirk in Leslie at (870) 447-6111.

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