WINTHROP — The school board is considering the possibility of joining its adult education program with neighboring school districts to make the program more sustainable.

Winthrop Schools adult education director Josh Farr on Jan. 11, 2019, at the Winthrop Community Learning Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Josh Farr, the director of adult education for Maine School Administrative District 11 and the Winthrop/Monmouth adult education program, is suggesting pooling the programs together.  

The proposal would create a pooled adult education program with MSAD 11, Winthrop and Regional School Unit 2 that would allow the programs to take its funding further in hiring teachers and offering programs. 

Farr said the funding for the program depends on if Winthrop and Hallowell-based RSU 2 want to join with MSAD 11 in funding the program — Winthrop and MSAD 11 already pay for an adult education program, which is funded by state subsidy. 

RSU 2 does not fund an adult education program.  

Winthrop Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said during a board meeting Wednesday night he would encourage the board to look to do it. 


“There is a lot to this, but through the committee of Josh (Farr), MSAD 11 Superintendent Pat Hopkins and me, we wanted to present to you guys to see if there is interest. It will expand opportunities,” Hodgkin told board members. 

The Winthrop School Board has not decided to join the programs yet, but elected new board members, Alicia Lawson and Ivy Corliss, to a subcommittee with the other districts to further explore and figure out what the conjunction could entail. 

Lawson asked if spreading the programs out would cause some students to have issues with transportation to courses. Farr answered that a larger program could provide more online opportunities, or even transportation.  

Farr said the funding formula is still up in the air depending on who joins, or if anyone joins the shared program, but that it would likely depend on the number of students each district sends. If all three districts agree, they could serve an area of 35,287 people, which would be close to Augusta’s area of 40,356, according to Farr’s handout.

Winthrop Schools adult education director Josh Farr is seen Jan. 11, 2019, at the Winthrop Community Learning Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

He explained that it can be difficult to get an exact number of how many students are currently in the separate programs, but that at this time, for the high school completion program, Winthrop has 15 students and MSAD 11 has 50. In comparison, Augusta has about 166.

“Overall, I think it makes sense for this kind of arrangement,” Farr said. “Mid-Maine is the best example of how it could happen with the program having several school districts around that contribute to the (adult education) program.”

Farr said he does not think the programs would suffer on their own if the pooled program does not get approved but being approved would provide “significant outcomes for improving services through fiscal, operational and programmatic alignments.” 

Potential challenges for the program, Farr said, could be that there would be three school boards and three superintendents in charge, along with the intersection of different policies. But that the upsides would be a larger network, flexibility in courses and more resources, Farr said. 

Services the joined adult education programs could offer are the HiSET, which is the equivalent to a high school diploma; adult career and college advising; certification training; the adult education diploma; adult skill development; English language program; local employment training program; and community enrichment. 

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