Josh Farr, director of the new Kennebec Neighbors Adult Education program is seen in January 2019 at the Winthrop Community Learning Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Three school districts in the Augusta area have agreed to combine their adult education programs to create a larger, more beneficial program.

Gardiner-area Maine School Administrative District 11 school board members voted unanimously to sign an interlocal agreement Thursday night that allows the district to join Hallowell-based Regional School Unit 2 and the Winthrop Public Schools to form the Kennebec Neighbors Adult Education Program.

A listing of courses for the new Kennebec Neighbors Adult Education program was mailed out to residents recently. Contributed photo

The new program will launch this fall, pending approval from the state.

Josh Farr will serve as its director. Farr ran MSAD 11’s adult education program and Winthrop’s shared program with Monmouth before starting to advocate for a three-district program in January. RSU 2 did not previously fund an adult education program. 

Farr said the larger program will “expand opportunities” for adult learners by having more resources and a larger budget due to the increased size of the community the program serves.  

He told the MSAD 11 school board Thursday night the phone has rung “off the hook” from people interested in the programs who want more information. People should be able to register for classes online starting next week, he said.


Adult education programs serve students of all ages and offer the high school diploma equivalent, either a GED or the HiSET test, among other classes that provide skills for the workforce and college preparation. The Kennebec Neighbors Adult Education Program, like others in the state, also offers services for multi-lingual learners, among a whole catalog of courses to choose from. Some classes cost a small fee.

The interlocal agreement outlines the rules and responsibilities of each district and establishes an advisory board. Each district will have three seats on the advisory committee — the superintendent or a delegate appointed by the superintendent from each district; one person selected and appointed by each school board; and one person from each community appointed by the school boards. 

The agreement will be sent to the state for approval now that each district’s school board has signed it.  

“Everyone shares the responsibility for the adult learners, that’s what it does,” Farr said Thursday night at MSAD 11’s board meeting. “It opens the door to operate one budget managed through MSAD 11 and then to set a cautionary formula on how that would be figured.”

Farr is required to create and submit a budget by Jan. 1 for the 2024-25 school year and a cost-sharing agreement between the three districts will be worked out by the advisory committee by Feb. 1 for school board approval.

Like a K-12 school budget, state subsidy funds the adult education budget, but sometimes districts are required to raise additional funds if the revenue does not cover the cost to run the program. In the budgets for the upcoming school year, Winthrop allocated $84,468 for adult education, MSAD 11 allocated $263,100 and RSU 2 allocated $35,000 for the new program, for a total of $382,568.


The advisory committee plans to meet quarterly and review the three districts’ responsibilities, which vary between school districts.

Each has a responsibility to contribute funding and offer facilities for programming, but Farr will be employed by MSAD 11, and Winthrop will contribute 20% of his salary. MSAD 11 is considered the “fiscal agent” for the Kennebec Neighbors Adult Education Program.

“It’s exciting for me for folks to provide input and for me to connect with them on what I’m doing,” Farr told the MSAD 11 board.

Farr’s salary was not immediately available Friday.

Farr said in previous meetings with school districts that it’s difficult to track the number of students in the programs, but on average Winthrop sees around 15 people and MSAD 11 has around 50 each year. Augusta, in comparison, has around 166.

The numbers might change this upcoming year now that the service area has around 35,000 eligible people, closer to Augusta’s 40,000. 

The municipalities served through the program are Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph, Pittston, Winthrop, Monmouth, Hallowell, Dresden and Farmingdale.

Classes are located at Gardiner Area High School at 40 West Hill Road and at the Winthrop Community Learning Center at 39A Highland Ave., behind the grade school.

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