Shaky future for program

April 09, 2003 11:00 pm


Established in 1998 as part of the California Literacy Campaign, Calaveras Adult Tutoring has helped 298 adults improve reading, writing or math skills or prepare for high school equivalency tests.

All services are free and confidential, and tutoring is provided by volunteers.

Jean Beaufort, president of CAT's board of directors, said the program is in danger of being closed down for lack of funds.

He said CAT received $90,000 from the state in 1998, the year it was established, but the amount has decreased every year. The final contribution from the state — $45,000 — was made to this year's budget.

"The concept from the beginning was that the county would pick up the cost," said Beaufort, who would like to see it become part of the county's library system.

"If the program is successful, it has to have a home, be part of the county or the library system. Until these things have a real home and become part of the structure, they survive only on the goodwill of people," he said.

He said it takes about $80,000 to run the program, with two employees — a program manager and an assistant program manager — who interview and test students, organize tutors and work closely with such agencies as Job Connection Calaveras, the county jail and Calaveras Works and Human Services.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, 17 percent of Calaveras County's adult population reads at or below the fifth-grade level. That means about 4,000 adults in the county are unable to read and understand contracts, forms, DMV documents and voting materials.

"Such limitations also keep them from sharing the pleasure of reading with their children," Beaufort said, adding that low literacy means higher poverty, unemployment, crime and a higher need for welfare assistance.

Beaufort said the board will lay off the assistant program manager at the end of June and reduce the hours from 32 to 24 for the program manager.