Northeast to provide adult ed services in eight counties

Rick Wagner • Jun 11, 2016 at 8:30 AM

GRAY — Northeast State Community College has been named a new Tennessee service provider for adult education services, one of eight across Tennessee. Northeast will receive a nearly $800,000 grant for the effort, which statewide is to save more than $2 million in administrative costs for adult ed programs by consolidating from 40 to eight providers.

Debi Tabor, supervisor of adult education for Kingsport City Schools, has been selected to lead the effort for Northeast as dean of adult education. She oversees the Sullivan County Adult Education Program from a Kingsport office, but come July 1 she will move to an office in Gray and oversee adult education in District 1, which is Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.

Northeast, based in Blountvillle,  is one of eight service providers announced by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) to coordinate adult education programs in each of the state’s 95 counties, according to a Thursday, June 9 Northeast news release. The school was awarded a $798,000 grant to oversee delivery of the program in eight counties.

For those seeking a high school equivalency diploma through the HiSET or High School Equivalency Test, Tabor said the change would be transparent because the current testing and study sites, including the Kingsport site at 222 W. main St., would remain the same with some sites possibly added.

“We will have classroom sections all over the eight (counties),” Tabor said Thursday. 

According to college officials, District 1 has a population of more than 40,000 who might benefit from adult education services. Northeast State’s plan, developed from input of current program providers, is to serve the adult learners who are deficient in basic skills and those who lack their high school diploma or equivalency. Ultimately, the program will help adults to complete a high school education, transition to post-secondary education and training and obtain employment.

She said the new arrangement will make it easier to help direct folks who get a HiSET to a certificate or degree program at Northeast.

Tennessee has 40 adult education service delivery areas, each with a separate entity overseeing the program in its respective part of the state. On July 1, TDLWD will restructure those service delivery areas into eight districts. During fiscal year 2015-2016 the state of Tennessee paid $3.15 million in administrative costs associated with the adult education program. The realignment to eight districts will reduce those administrative costs by $2.1 million in fiscal year 2016-17.

“We will take that $2 million and invest into Tennessee’s adult learners,” TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips said in the release. “I am confident this restructure will greatly improve Tennessee’s adult education program and help thousands of Tennesseans find better jobs.” The department will take the money once spent on overhead costs and nearly double the number of full-time instructors across the state, increasing the figure from 35 to 62 instructors.

With the new service contracts, providers in the eight districts will be able to offer full-time instructors a starting salary of $40,000. The current salary for a beginning adult education instructor is $28,809.

“This will allow our service providers to hire full-time instructors who are more familiar and fluent in the adult education curriculum and allow them to dedicate more time to students,” Phillips said.

The other seven districts and their providers are: District 2, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Knoxville; District 3, Putnam County Schools; District 4, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Athens; District 5, Workforce Essentials; District 6, South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance; District 7, Henderson County Schools; and District 8, HopeWorks.

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