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Board votes to end half-day system at Pa. career center

April 28, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School District students attending the Franklin County Career and Technology Center will be on the same semester schedule as students from the center's other five districts after its Joint Operating Committee voted 6-3 Thursday to end the half-day attendance policy initiated by Chambersburg at the beginning of the school year.

Chambersburg's committee members, David Sciamanna, Fred Rice and Stanley Helman, voted against the measure, which passed 6-3, but incoming Chambersburg superintendent Joseph Padasak said, "I think it's a very good thing for our kids."

Earlier this year, the Chambersburg School Board voted 5-4 to continue the all-year, half-day attendance policy through the 2006-07 school year for the 400 students the district sends to the career center. The 500 students from the other five districts - Waynesboro, Tuscarora, Shippensburg, Greencastle-Antrim and Fannett-Metal - attend the center one semester and their home schools the other.

"I find the dual half-day delivery system is a burden and is taking the very breath out of this school," said Jim Miller, the committee member for Fannett-Metal.

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"Our whole scheduling process was based on a vote that took place two months ago ... Why was it brought up tonight?" Sciamanna said after the meeting. Helman and Rice said they had no comment on the outcome of the vote.

"There's no question there's too much friction now with dual delivery," Padasak said after the vote. More changes could be on the way, he said.

"We will have to have our kids here almost like a comprehensive school," said Padasak, who replaces retiring Superintendent Edwin Sponseller in July. That would mean career and technology students spending the entire year at the center, receiving instruction in both technical and academic courses, he said.

The vote came after Padasak presented the committee with a set of four recommendations approved unanimously at the end of Wednesday's special meeting of the Chambersburg School Board.

The board asked the committee to consider:

- That one school board or district take over the total operation of the career center.

- Uniform admission standards for students from all six districts.

- Dividing the formula for funding the center two elements - a per-student cost for operations and a second formula for capital-related costs.

- One delivery system for all the students attending the center.

The recommendations also called for Chambersburg to "consider withdrawing from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center" if the initiatives are not approved by the operating committee and their respective school boards.

Before the vote, James Duffey, the center's director, said the center could still serve five districts if Chambersburg opts out by consolidating programs and other measures.

"I would discourage doomsday thinking that we need to walk out of this room and plan for a future without Chambersburg," said Waynesboro's Stanley Barkdoll, chairman of the committee.

Afterward, however, Padasak was talking about possibly adding an academic wing to the center for Chambersburg students. Returning to the semester system and other changes, he said, could eventually increase Chambersburg's center enrollment.

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