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Hartford-Area Literacy Group Bids For Reinstated Funds

Greater Hartford


October 22, 2008

With about 41 percent of Greater Hartford's adult population reading at below sixth-grade level, Carl Guerriere, the executive director for the Greater Hartford Literacy Council, feels the need for his organization is strong.

But, the literacy council will close in December unless significant funding comes through, from any combination of private organizations or the city budget. Guerriere will address the education subcommittee of the city council tonight to plead one more time for reinstated funding, though that restoration looks unlikely. Guerriere said he at least wants to outline plans for continuing some of the work the literacy council has done since 2001.

"We're trying to impress upon them the need [for literacy services]," Guerriere said. "If we close the door to the literacy council, those needs will still be there."

The literacy council draws its budget from the city, the board of education, grants, donations and membership dues. During budget discussions, the city and board of education withdrew about $125,000 for the 2008-09 fiscal year. Later, the city reinstated $60,000 to the literacy council.

"Both the mayor and the board of education felt that the literacy council wasn't achieving the desired results," said Sarah Barr, Mayor Eddie Perez's director of communications.

Each year, the literacy council gives thousands of books to families in 35 towns and cities in the Hartford area. The organization also advocates for literacy efforts, links organizations that provide literacy programs and organizes projects, such as the family literacy initiative, Guerriere said. He said they have shown improvements in literacy through their programs.

"We're one of the few organizations that's looking at literacy from a holistic perspective," Guerriere said.

But in hard economic times, cities don't have much leeway in their budgets. School Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski last week explained the grim challenges the school system faces, saying the district may be forced to cut positions or school days. And the city is facing a roughly $8 million deficit this year and is looking at a possible $40 million deficit for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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