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Fulton County disbands vo-tech schools

June 10, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - After voting to disband the county's vocational-technical school, board members in Fulton County's three school districts are scrambling to come up with alternative courses for about 400 high school students.

The Fulton County Area Vocational Technical School is a school without walls. It has no building. Students take classes in their own high schools. The exception is on-the-job training, such as in the building trades, where students build a house, a project that takes two years to complete.

Some classroom teachers devote part of their teaching day to vo-tech courses. The vo-tech school also has five full-time teachers who move between districts, said Harold Dworetzky, director of the vocational school.

Dworetzky leaves the job June 30 after three years to take a similar position in Centre County, Pa.

On May 28, the nine-member vo-tech board voted to end the agreement that funded the school through the Southern Fulton, Central Fulton and Forbes Road school districts for the last 10 years.

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The Forbes Road District is the smallest of the three with 60 students enrolled in vo-tech, yet it would have paid $54,000 into the program next year, according to Dworetzky's proposed budget. Central Fulton, the largest with 200 students enrolled, would have paid only $41,000. Southern Fulton, with 160 students enrolled, would pay $76,000.

Forbes Road's higher share stems from transportation costs because many of its vo-tech students take classes in the Southern and Central Fulton districts. Other costs include a portion of the salary of teachers in those districts who devote part of their day to teaching vo-tech courses, said Merrill Arnold, Forbes Road superintendent.

Arnold said his was the only one of the three districts that voted to keep the vo-tech school running.

"We were hoping for one more year. This caught us off guard," he said.

He said most vo-tech students in his school will take one of two classes offered there. The rest will be farmed out to vo-tech classes either in Central Fulton or nearby counties.

All three superintendents said elimination of the vo-tech school will save their districts money.

Carolyn Shegelski, superintendent in Southern Fulton, said her district will save about $87,000 a year by setting up its own vo-tech program.

"We will still offer the same classes. We won't let our students down. The state Department of Education supports us," she said.

Hervey P. Hann, superintendent in Central Fulton, said his district will save with its own programs.

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