Marshall Adult Education


Four Area Adult Basic Ed Groups Merging
By Karin Elton
Independent Staff Writer

MARSHALL  -  No longer individual voices crying in the wilderness, the four Adult Basic Education programs serving southwestern Minnesota are merging into one strong shout.

In an effort to ensure education excellence and quality program availability in rural communities, four Adult Basic Education consortia will merge into one agency  -  the Southwest Minnesota ABE.

Comprised of the Granite Falls, Jackson, Marshall and Worthington ABE consortia, the merger will take effect July 1 and will deliver adult education services in 53 school distr4icts covering an 18 county area in southwest Minnesota.

Members hope the merger will allow the formerly independent groups to increase and maximize state funding while heightening public awareness of the mission of ABE in Minnesota  -  to provide adults with education opportunities to acquire and improve their literacy skills necessary to be self-sufficient and to participants effectively as productive workers. family members and citizens.

The Marshall consortium was a driving force behind the merger.  Pat Thomas, the Marshall ABE coordinator, is as advocate of agencies interacting with each to better serve the customer.

The merger is beneficial because "we are able to capture additional state funds and more importantly we are able to talk to each other to serve out learners better, "said Thomas.

For example, Thomas said Marshall has an excellent computer specialist who has developed a website that another consortium might use.

The program directors have been meeting over the past year to weigh the pros and cons of the merger, said Karla  Roisin, the Granite Falls area program manager.

"It's a win-win situation for all," said Roisin.

"(The merger) increases our ability to coordinate services and make better use of the monies available," she said.  "We can work cooperatively by sharing resources and ideas."

The merger makes the Southwest Minnesota ABE the second largest consortium geographically in the state.

"As a larger consortium, we'll have the ability to use the leverage for grant opportunities ," Toisin said.

By putting our numbers together, we will get all the money we're eligible for," said Thomas.

"The state adult education office is highly supportive of the merger and four existing southwest Minnesota ABE programs into one ABE consortium," said Barry Shaffer, the state director of Adult Education, Minnesota Department of Education.  "From our viewpoint there are several distinct advantages:   increased state revenues acquisition, operational cost efficiency and greater fiscal and human resource coordination.  The program administrators that have brought this new collaboration together have shown creativity and foresight and are excellent stewards of the public trust."

It is estimated that the formation of the Southwest Minnesota ABE will result in nearly $55,000 in additional state ABE revenues for program development during fiscal year 2004-05.  Each of the four original consortia will continue to operate under their respective current managers.  The Marshall Public School will act as the fiscal agent for the new merger.