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All-day, all-year technical school program OK'd

May 26, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A month after the Franklin County Career and Technology Center's Joint Operating Committee voted to end half-day attendance for students from the Chambersburg Area School District, it voted unanimously Thursday to approve a one-year pilot program for those students to attend the center all day for the entire year.

Half the Chambersburg students will take career courses for a semester while the other half take academic classes run by Chambersburg, according to incoming superintendent Joseph Padasak. Those students will then switch places in the second semester under the plan.

"The administration believes this is the best opportunity to provide career and academic courses to students," said Chambersburg School Board member Stanley Helman. There would be individual education plans for district students to help them meet state academic standards, he said.

"We have purposely not gone too far into the details," said Helman, noting the district wanted committee approval before going any further. The committee is made up of school board members from the Chambersburg, Waynesboro, Tuscarora, Shippensburg, Greencastle-Antrim and Fannett-Metal school districts.

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"The devil is in the details, and we don't have the details yet," said Donald Hilbinger, Shippensburg's representative on the committee.

Four unused shop areas would be divided into eight classrooms with teachers from Chambersburg providing instruction in English, math, social studies and the sciences, said Eric Michael, Chambersburg's assistant superintendent for curriculum and development. The district will provide an academic administrator, but details about guidance, nursing and other staff requirements remain to be worked out, he said.

Hilbinger also asked what will happen if the center needs additional space for new programs. Padasak said it would be Chambersburg's responsibility to provide academic instruction space, which could include prefabricated buildings.

Michael said 327 district students have signed up for the center in 2006-07, down from about 400 this year, but that number could rise over the summer.

This year, Chambersburg sent students to the center for half of each day, while they took academic courses at the high school the other half. The other five districts continued to send students for a semester at a time.

The Chambersburg School Board voted to continue half-day attendance in 2006-07, but the committee voted it down in April.

"We'll do everything we can to help Chambersburg make it work," said James Duffey, the center's director. Half-day attendance interfered with the schedules of students from other schools, something Chambersburg's comprehensive approach will not do, he said.

All-day, all-year attendance will remove all career students from Chambersburg Area Senior High School, which has an enrollment of about 1,800. That will reduce overcrowding and could affect the district's plans for future secondary school construction, Michael said.

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