FARMINGTON – Franklin Savings Bank helped close the so-called “digital divide” Monday when the local bank president handed representatives of the Franklin County Adult and Community Education program a check for $7,500.
“We consider this part of our mission here,” Franklin Savings Bank President and CEO Peter Judkins said. He noted that he originally approached the bank’s board to ask for $5,000, but with their support the business decided to increase their contribution.
From left to right: Ray Therrien, MSAD 9 Adult Education director; Paul Brown, MSAD 9 Community Education coordinator; Peter Judkins, Franklin Savings Bank president and CEO; and Gary Perlson, MSAD 58 Adult and Community Education director; are on hand to accept the bank’s donation to help buy laptop computers for the adult education program.
The money will be matched by a $10,000 grant through the Opportunity Center of North Franklin County from the national John Merck Fund and be used to purchase laptop computers. These will be used in two ways – to form the base for a mobile computer lab for adult education classes and for use by some individual students’ academic careers.
The laptops, which will likely be Dell PCs to match what is typically used in the Franklin County business community, will help lessen what is seen as a major disadvantage county residents are facing in an increasingly technological business world.
“We’re narrowing the gap,” MSAD 58 Adult and Community Education Director Gary Perlson said, “everyone’s given up on some of these people, but it’s amazing how fast they learn.”
The ability to set up a computer lab anywhere is a huge advantage for the programs offered through community education. Distance, especially with the current gas prices, is a large deterrent to holding classes in places like Farmington. Furthermore, the MSAD 58 laptop for high school students program has done away with the computer labs at Mt. Abram High School, so adult and community education classes need to look elsewhere. Computers, of course, are critical for many classes, especially for some of the businesses seeking skilled employees.
Students who are loaned a laptop for the duration of their education will have an option to purchase it at the end of their classes in Franklin County. This money can then be used to purchase newer, and often increasingly lower-priced equipment.
The program has no real counterpart in the state.
“We are initiating the program,” MSAD 9 Adult Education Director Ray Therrien said, “obviously having the private sector assist a nonprofit like this – it’s incredibly helpful.”
“Without the partnership with Franklin Savings Bank, it would be impossible,” Perlson added.
Classes start Sept. 2. There are two sign-up sessions where people can come in and check out what’s available.
Tuesday, Aug. 12: at the Foster Regional Applied Technology Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 19: at the Avon Town Office from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
For more information, call 778 – 3460 for the MSAD 9 office, or 678 – 2455 for the MSAD 58 office.