Thank you for your news article about the pending suspension of operations at LiteracyCNY. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, we are writing to clarify a few items that we believe may have been misconstrued.
In the article, Mrs. Ruth Colvin, Founder of Literacy Volunteers and LiteracyCNY Board Member, said that “It [the vote to suspend operations] was such a surprise to me.” Mrs. Colvin and other Board Members have been fully informed of the agency’s financial constraints via monthly operational reports generated by Executive Director Marsha Tait, and in discussions at each board meeting as the official, fully documented, minutes from each board meeting reflect. Additionally, I sent a communication to every board member several days prior to the recent board meeting indicating that the Executive Committee was going to move to suspend operations.
Mrs. Colvin also asserted that “I think the staff should go…” we would like to clarify that all employees have received exemplary evaluations and have been the primary contributors to the financial and educational success of the agency, resulting in long-term Proficient and Highly Proficient ratings from our contracting agency, the New York State Department of Education. There are two specific reasons for LiteracyCNY’s current cash flow shortage, neither of which can be resolved by our excellent staff: 1. the COVID-19 epidemic; and 2. the Executive Order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August suspending contract payments to nonprofits including LiteracyCNY. Our staff and instructors have conducted themselves with integrity and professionalism during what has been an unquestionably difficult and stressful period of time, and have still managed to execute our mission and commitment to our students.
Finally, LiteracyCNY’s small group classroom program is different than classroom programs offered by other adult education programs in the community in that classrooms are kept intentionally very small (between 12-15 students prior to the COVID shutdown) in order to best meet the needs of targeted adult literacy and English language learners who read, write or speak English below the sixth-grade level. We believe that suspension of the LiteracyCNY small group classroom program will leave a void that will hurt the most vulnerable members of our community.
William T. Kriesel
LiteracyCNY Board President