Wallace State Community College has solidified plans with Arley Town Council to establish a $500,000 Community Learning Center on town property next to the Meek Baptist Church. The 4.2-acre site will be leased to Wallace State for $1 a year.
The Alabama Legislature passed a supplemental appropriation for Wallace State in the amount of $230,000 in support of the learning center, which hopes to help improve the number of college graduates in Winston County. Currently, the county-wide average college rate is 41% for high school graduates and around 23% of the county’s population without a high school diploma.
“I want to work with you to improve the college-going rate of students here in Winston County,” said Dr. Vicki Karolewics, Wallace State president, at a recent town council meeting. “It’s hard for them to leave home and drive a long way to access college. What we want to do is make dual enrollment more accessible. We want to make our main campus classes more accessible.”
The 4,550-square-foot, prefabricated building will include about eight classrooms and computer labs that can be used for college classes, adult education, community education, dual enrollment and more. The facility will have adult education staff and career coaches on site, Karolewics said. “So, we’ll have connections to what we offer on the main campus, as well as adult education classes here.”
Additional funding for the center will be secured from the Alabama Community College System, tapping into funds available for dual enrollment and rapid skills training.
Previously, Wallace State established the Winston County Works program in 2016, which helped hundreds of residents with short-term basic skills training in support of industry-recognized certification and credentials.