Literacy campus gets BOE approval
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Morgan County Commissioners cleared the way Tuesday for the Lifelong Learning Campus (LLC) to locate on North 2nd Street in Madison, in buildings formerly occupied by county services.
The collaborative literacy campus will house programs run by the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, Morgan County Schools, DeKalb Technical College, and the Georgia Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, and possibly Georgia Military College.
“It’s a continuum of literacy, from pre-school all the way through college and beyond,” said county manager Michael Lamar on Tuesday.
The Lifelong Learning Campus will bring together programs to aid families and students of all ages and in all stages of literacy.
The Morgan County Board of Education, in addition to continuing to collaborate with Ferst Foundation in the school system’s pre-kindergarten readiness program, will hold classes at the LLC to help students graduate from high school.
“We see this as an opportunity to provide an additional way for students to complete high school in a non-traditional setting,” said Dr. Stan DeJarnett, Superintendent of the Morgan County Board of Education.
“Whether students are off-track for graduation, or already in the work force and coming back for their high-school diploma…this gives an additional place to offer programming. We can also connect them to some post-secondary opportunities,” said DeJarnett.
“This central location [for literacy services] is going to help the community in so many ways,” said Shauna von Hanstein, executive director of the Ferst Foundation.
“I’m so thrilled that the county commissioners recognize the benefits of this campus, not just to us but to the community as a whole.”
The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy is a local program that provides free books each amonth to children in Morgan County—and elsewhere—who are anywhere from one month to five–years–old.
The foundation has helped to increase kindergarten-readiness for pre-schoolers in Morgan County in the 10 years since the program’s inception.
DeKalb Technical College offers dual-enrollment classes to high-school students, as well as continuing-education classes to local adults.
The Ferst Foundation staff has already begun moving onto the new campus, and the Morgan County Building Authority (the board members of which are the Morgan County Commissioners) unanimously approved the lease to the collaborative members Tuesday morning. The commissioners will lease two structures (formerly the county health department and mental health buildings) and a parking lot to the literacy campus for three years at no charge, with an option to renew the lease.
The literacy agencies involved will pay for all utilities as well as any renovations to the buildings, and will maintain the buildings as part of the lease.
“It’s another example of the win-win-win we can achieve when we work together,” said DeJarnett. “We really appreciate the county commissioners’ support of this project.”