Proposal: A Partnership for the Generations
Prepared By: Gordon Walker, CEO
Date: July 3, 2007
Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning (JILL)
Opportunity & Need:
In addition to instructing students in grades K-12 and striving to give them an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, Albemarle County Government has a goal of providing “high quality educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.” The shifting age demographics for this community point to the need for resources that mutually serve the learning needs of an increasing elder population as well as the 4-18 year-old and adult education populations. Continuing education for seniors in particular helps keep our wisest citizens active and involved in the community. This population serves on our non-profit boards, volunteers thousands of hours each year and is much more likely to vote than any other age group.
The expansion of Albemarle High School (AHS) is the perfect opportunity to meld the needs of all citizens who wish to learn by placing senior classrooms in the high school. In this way, students would benefit from the presence of their elders who are focused on education and can set strong, positive examples for the students. Furthermore, we believe that having senior citizens nearby will help with the improvement of classroom discipline.
The Jefferson Institute for Lifelong Learning, in operation since 2001, is a non-profit volunteer organization, with the exception of two part-time staff members. It has served the community by bringing together over 1100 senior citizens and retirees annually to engage in meaningful coursework taught by specialists in their fields. Classes are generally held from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM during weekdays. For the most part all instructors have worked at the University if Virginia level or are experienced business and government professionals from the community at large. Students are charged a nominal fee to enroll in the daytime courses (Spring ’07 catalogue is included). JILL courses are currently held at multiple locations. A home base would better facilitate efficiency and continuity.
It is proposed that the planned addition to Albemarle High School include additional space to provide for JILL’s office and program needs. Superintendent Pam Moran, the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA), and the Board of JILL all support the concept of this proposal.
This intergenerational concept would create an opportunity during the school day for the JILL program courses to be taught on site at AHS and through this collaboration to allow AHS to utilize the skills and experience of JILL – volunteers, guest lecturers and instructors. In conjunction with the potential development of a specialty center at AHS, the JILL proposal offers an opportunity to develop an innovative joint venture with a senior organization committed to lifelong learning. The use of public school property for senior college coursework is not without precedent. Both Fairfax and Arlington Counties successfully operate programs similar to JILL in space owned by their respective counties.
Matt Haas, the principal of AHS, has lauded the benefit of the co-location. He believes it will: 1). improve student discipline (students behaving better with their elders present), 2). bring productive mentoring—particularly science and math and 3). expand and enhance course offerings. This concept proposal supports the Albemarle County Public Schools’ Goals, including volunteer outcome measure for Goal 1, Priority 1.2.
Furthermore, discussions with Frank Friedman, President of PVCC have opened up the distinct possibility of community college use of the JILL space for evening courses, thus advancing further multi-generational use.
BCWH Architects, selected to design the expansion of AHS, have put forward a “design-not-to-exceed” construction budget of $1,400,135. The cost is based on JILL’s space requirements (and requisite parking) proceeding on the same schedule as the rest of the project.
One model might involve a combination of public and private resources to pay for the additional space. The County, as owner of the building, would pursue typical financing with VPSA over a 20-year period at 5% interest. Melvin Breeden has prepared a spread sheet assuming level payments over the 20 years and interest being paid semi-annually (attached). It may also be possible to finance by level payment of P & I over the 20 years, approximately $112,400 per year.
Using this model, JILL believes that it can make substantial contribution to the overall cost by some combination of the following: 1) conducting a capital fundraising campaign, 2) seeking individual and foundation gifts, 3) participating in the VPSA loan agreement, and 4) rent. JILL has conducted some preliminary research and has received a positive response from potential investors.
Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) could also have a lease agreement for the space necessary for their evening courses. (Frank Friedman, President of PVCC, has indicated he may be able to secure capital funds contributed to this project that could offset wholly or partially required lease payments).
Additionally, there might be an approach to Charlottesville’s City Council to request financial assistance based on City resident enrollment in JILL classes. To date, 25% of JILL’s 1100 students are from the City.
Due to its expansion plans, Albemarle High School has the opportunity to become an intergenerational community learning center and to be a model for other schools. Doing so will create present and future value for multiple generations while also better utilizing a County asset in an efficient manner.
This collaboration has the potential to mutually enhance and enrich the experiences of high school students and seniors within one learning community. The proposal provides an opportunity to research and develop a site and facility model that shifts schools from being created and viewed as primarily PK-12 facilities to being a 24/7 community-school center, thus increasing the use and value of a community asset. JILL representatives identify the need for a dependable space in order to schedule programs as critical to continuation and expansion of their offerings within the community.
Addressing the issue of financing via a public-private collaboration is sound fiscal management. The County would retain ownership of enhanced property, while tapping into non-tax revenue to increase its value and benefit to the community as a whole. And as noted earlier herein, this project positively pursues goals of both Albemarle’s General Government and its School District.
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