Parents, students sound off on all-day plan

June 13, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With a vote scheduled Wednesday on a proposal to send students to the Franklin County Career and Technology Center all day for the entire year, parents and students had a lot of questions for Chambersburg Area School District officials Monday night.

More than 100 parents and students were at the high school auditorium, many complaining that students are looking at the third attendance policy in as many years.

"We're all scared. We don't want our children stuck out there in the middle of a cornfield" isolated from the rest of the high school students, said parent Sonya Blansit. "Experiments are great, but they're our children."

Two years ago, students from the county's six school districts attended the center in the fall or spring and their home schools the other semester. In 2005-06, Chambersburg sent its 400 career and technology students to the center half the day for the entire year, a system the school board voted in February to continue in 2006-07.


In April, however, the center's Joint Operating Committee voted to end half-day attendance. Incoming Chambersburg superintendent Joseph Padasak then proposed the district's students attend the center all day throughout the year, with one semester of shop classes and another of academic courses, a plan the committee approved in May.

The plan, which requires having about 10 Chambersburg teachers at the center, will allow more individualized academic instruction and relieve overcrowding at the high school, Padasak said. The district will pay for the additional teachers, an administrator and classroom improvements, he said.

"The program at the vo-tech worked fine for years," said parent Kennie Sanders. "You should have talked to us before you made all these decisions."

"I feel like they dump us off at the vo-tech just to get rid of us," said his son, Andy Sanders. Being at the center all year will isolate him from high school friends, a sentiment shared by student Sondra Carroll.

"Some students aren't going back this year because of it," Carroll said. Chambersburg's 2006-07 enrollment at the center is 325, according to district figures.

Changes in Chambersburg's attendance policy have been driven by requirements that all students meet state proficiency levels on standardized tests. Padasak said students taking advanced courses could do so at the high school or online, while remedial instruction could be done at the center.

Bryan Pefley, a former student, said the district should have academic courses more relevant to career and technology students.

"We don't sit around on the job site and conjugate verbs," Pefley said.

The board is scheduled to vote on the all-day, all-year plan at its Wednesday night meeting.

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