All day looks to be the way at career center

May 12, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - After the Joint Operating Committee of the Franklin County Career and Technology Center voted last month to kill the Chambersburg Area School District's half-day attendance, incoming superintendent Joseph Padasak said he would push for district students to attend the center all day throughout the school year, something that could happen this fall.

"They've kind of given me their blessing that we're going to go all-day, all-year," Padasak said Thursday after meeting with Administrative Director James Duffey and superintendents from some of the other five districts that enroll students at the center. Padasak said he will request action by the Joint Operating Committee, made up of representatives of the six districts' school boards, at its May 25 meeting.

This year, Chambersburg's 400 career and technology students went to a half-day attendance policy, going to high school in the morning or the afternoon and to the center the other half of the day. The other five districts - Waynesboro, Tuscarora, Shippensburg, Greencastle-Antrim and Fannett-Metal - continued to have their students attend all day for a semester at a time, with half going in the fall and the other half in the spring.


The Chambersburg School Board earlier this year voted to continue half-day attendance for the 2006-07 school year. The policy was adopted in an attempt to raise the academic achievement of district students attending the center, most of whom score below proficient on state standardized tests.

At the April 27 meeting of the joint operating committee, however, its members voted 6-3 to end half-day delivery, with the representatives from the other districts all voting to end the policy.

"We'll provide the resources for the academic courses, the staff and the support," Padasak said Thursday. "We're going to work on it now. We're starting the scheduling now."

"With some of the programs we've closed, there's potential for space here in the school" for academic classes, Duffey said. Programs not being offered next year are drafting, business data processing and protective services, he said.

"There's business education in most of the home schools and drafting, as well," Duffey said.

Protective services was dropped because an instructor resigned and, in part due to budget considerations, the position was not filled, he said.

"The consistent scheduling is going to be good for us and doing this would not affect that," Duffey said.

Half of the 400 Chambersburg students would take career courses, while the other half take academic classes for a semester, then switch the next semester, he said.

"There was a lot of positive discussion at today's meeting with the superintendents," Duffey said. "I'm pleased with the cohesiveness of the six districts. It was pretty grim for a while," he said of the split that developed over the half-day scheduling.

"As long as it doesn't preclude or eliminate opportunities for our kids, I'm OK with it," said Tuscarora School District Superintendent Thomas Stapleford, who was unable to attend Thursday's meeting.

To make the center a comprehensive school for Chambersburg students will require the district assigning teachers to the building and to teach math, English, social studies and science to the 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, Padasak said. Individual education programs, or IEPs, would be designed for students to address their academic needs through classes offered either at the center or through the Internet.

"We're still working on that and we're prepared to make it happen," Padasak said of the budget and personnel details that need to be worked out.

Duffey said the all-day, all-year approach could boost enrollment by Chambersburg students, which slipped from 425 to 395, in part due to the unpopularity of half-day scheduling.

Chambersburg has the largest enrollment at the center, with about 500 students enrolled from the other districts. Duffey said Chambersburg contributes 42 percent of the center's budget, which will be more than $5 million in 2006-07.

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