State terminates $800K adult education contract

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development is ending its contract with Shelby County Schools to provide funding for adult education classes, citing low enrollment and graduation rates and uprooting at least 800 students mid-term.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

The students, who currently attend Messick Adult Center for high school equivalency and English language learning classes, will be able to finish their coursework with nonprofit HopeWorks starting Monday.

…The termination letter, dated Feb. 4, states the contract can be ended “without cause” and does not give a reason for ending the grant. But an emailed statement to The Commercial Appeal from the state office’s Division of Adult Education said SCS has only been enrolling a fraction of students in the county who qualify for adult education, and only a fraction of those are graduating.

Labor department spokesman Chris Cannon said in the email the state notified SCS of the termination of the $805,122 contract last week, but it was not sudden.

“This has been an ongoing, year-long dialogue with Shelby County Schools regarding their performance which has now culminated in a 30-day notice of termination of their contract,” Cannon said. “Each day this decision was prolonged was a day that could have been utilized to improve the program for the citizens of Shelby County. After numerous exhaustive efforts to bring about improvement, termination of the contract was the only option left available.”

In a statement Tuesday, SCS reiterated that the state communication cited no cause for the contract’s termination.

“The District is unaware of any further concerns on behalf of the state regarding Messick,” SCS said.

Students and teachers were notified of the program closing last week.