A $2 million grant to Barton Community College ends this month, but the work it started – job training for prison inmates – will continue, the Barton Community College trustees learned Thursday.
Associate faculty member David Miller reported on the Community Based Job Training grant that the Department of Labor awarded to BCC in 2009. Miller lives in Larned and was the college’s project director for the grant.
“That grant has been very successful for us,” Miller said. After receiving it, Barton was expected to provide training to 250 inmates and develop a plan to sustain the program after the grant money was gone. “We did more.”
The college provided 826 services, with 610 inmates completing educational and/or job training activities. Five hundred inmates received certificates and 56 earned General Educational Development diplomas. Grant programs offered were: Manufacturing, welding, plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), computer aided drafting, computer certification, GED, a “work ready” certification and life skills.
Meanwhile, the state cut funding for GED courses at Ellsworth Correctional Facility and the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility, Miller said. However, BCC was able to provide those courses through the grant. And, on July 1, the Kansas Department of Corrections awarded the college the education contract for both facilities. Barton will continue offering everything from the grant except the HVAC training.
“KDOC wants another vocational program and online education,” Miller said. “We believe that can expand our program significantly.”
Miller said the college will return about $300,000 of the $2 million grant that it wasn’t able to spend. And for every 100 inmates who stay out of prison for a year, taxpayers save $3 million, he said. “It all boils down to economics. We wanted to get these individuals into the workforce and relieve the burden of care from the taxpayers.”
Early data show 78 percent of the inmates who gained employment after completing one of the programs have retained employment, Miller said.
In action items Thursday, the board of trustees approved hiring Apryl Schmucker as assistant volleyball coach and Nolan Esfeld as the developmental lab coordinator on the Barton County campus.