New questions about Missouri's adult high school plan

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JEFFERSON CITY- A bill passed this year would allow the construction of four adult high schools, one located in Boone County. After following up with the bill's sponsor, Representative Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, he shared that different organizations are still bidding for these schools. 

"The adult high school bill was signed by the governor on July 5th. And it was fully implemented August 28th. It's now on DESE's (Department of Secondary Education) desk for an RFP (request for proposal), to figure out which organization is going to manage the contract for the four adult high schools."

Fitzwater stated that the majority of responses he received about the schools were positive.

"I think the feedback has been great. I think people are thrilled about it, this was a bipartisan bill. We had a lot of very strong support on both the republican and democrat sides."

Nearly 500,000 adults in Missouri don't have a high school diploma. But going back to school isn't always a breeze. In fact, for some adults it's very difficult.

The program will allow each person to pick up where he or she left off. If an individual had credits when he or she dropped out of high school, he or she would start the adult high school program with those same credits.

The program is be designed to graduate students within two years.

But Ann McCauley, director of adult education and literacy at Moberly Area Community College, says she's worried that these adults won't have much flexibility in their class schedules.

"They're juggling multiple demands. They have children, they have jobs, they have bills to pay, sometimes they're faced with homelessness, poverty. Things they didn't quite face as children are now facing them as adults. They have severe time constraints."

Fitzwater said the hours each location holds classes is not up to the government, but the organization who wins the bid for the schools.

"When we talked to Goodwill they mentioned they'd have like six classes a day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So you can go from in the morning until late at night. So you have two classes before lunch, two classes in the afternoon and two classes at night. If you wanted to take that load." 

Another worry McCauley had was whether or not these programs would emphasize importance on training the adults for the working world after they finished their education.

"Our concern is whether or not that quality will still be there. We have to place students in jobs after they graduate, its not enough that they just get their high school equivalency, we either have to put them through jobs or job training or career exploration or something with college classes."

Fitzwater completely agrees that employment training is valuable to those in the program.

""We want to make sure we're plugging people not only into the diploma program, but also into jobs, local job needs so they can fulfill some of these job roles."

According to Fitzwater, details on each location, program specifics and how to get enrolled will be available closer to the end of this year.