As disconnected youth rates rise across the country, Kentucky’s largest school district plans to discontinue its adult education program after the coming school year.
Instead, Jefferson County Public Schools wants an unnamed community partner to take over the adult education program at the end of 2022, it said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“We believe the time has come for us to concentrate all of our efforts on preK-12 education while a community partner leads adult education efforts in Louisville,” the district said in a statement.
“This proposed change is not a reflection on the work of our adult education employees who are dedicated to ensuring those who want to further their education have the opportunity to do so,” the statement continued.
It is unclear which community organization will step in to continue the program, which helps people earn their GEDs and find jobs. It also provides free English-as-a-Second-Language classes to adults learning English. The program has been under the JCPS umbrella for decades.
Related:As Louisville ‘disconnected youth’ numbers rise, groups offer help with education, career
A consent calendar item regarding the situation, meant to receive a vote during Tuesday night’s school board meeting, has been pulled from the agenda ahead of the meeting, school board member James Craig said.
A district official told the program’s leader of the plan last week, program staff and advocates told The Courier Journal.
The move blindsided program staff and some district leaders. When first asked for more details, a JCPS spokeswoman sounded surprised and said she didn’t have any information about the situation. Craig noted he learned of the issue when upset employees began emailing school board members.
Program staff will be able to continue working for JCPS or stick with the program under new oversight, if the decision receives board approval. The district and the state office overseeing adult education programs will help with the transition.
“In the meantime, nothing will change for our adult learners and the JCPS employees who are educating them,” JCPS said in a statement.
The program plays a critical role in connecting “disconnected” youth — those ages 16 to 24 without a job or education — with opportunities in Louisville.
Louisville has a higher-than-average rate of disconnected youth, at 13.4%. That figure has swelled since a 2019 Courier Journal investigation, moving from 16,800 youth in 2019 to 19,700 in a recently released 2022 report.
Louisville’s $15 billion problem:17,000 young people are out of school and out of work
This story will be updated.