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Hard to argue with Tech High results

October 29, 2006|by Jacqueline Fischer and Paul Bailey

Recently at various candidates forums, comments were made about career programs past and present in the Washington County school system. This column seeks to correct some inaccuracies stated and resulting misconceptions.

Currently, there are 15 career and technology programs offered at the Technical High School, ranging from electrical construction to cosmetology to automotive technology.

While it is true that five courses were dropped between 1994 and 2002, they had extremely low enrollments (as low as two students) during their final years. It is not financially sound to maintain classroom space, equipment, textbooks and materials, as well as a teacher's salary and benefits for such small enrollments.

These courses were replaced with courses students found more desirable. In 1994, academic courses were added in place of plumbing, eliminating the need for students to travel back and forth to their home schools.

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In 1995, HVAC was replaced by advanced computer applications (current enrollment 25) and machine trades was replaced by visual communications (21).

Also in 1995, criminal justice (23) replaced masonry. In 2002, digital communications (21) replaced welding. (Parts of the welding course are now taught in various programs at Clear Spring High, South High, and Tech High. Some masonry skills are taught at South High.)

Two additional courses were added to Tech High in 1999: computer repair and networking, and printing/graphic communications. In 1996, pre-engineering was added.

Additional career programs exist in various high schools through the Academy Program. Students from any public county high school may enroll in any academy. South High offers the Academy of Finance; Williamsport High offers the Academy of Manufacturing and Engineering; North High offers the Academy of Medical Careers and the Education Academy; Clear Spring High offers the Environmental and Agricultural Science Academy. The Fire and Rescue Career Technology Academy is offered in conjunction with all seven high schools.

In addition, several career technology completer programs are available at most high schools. They include business technology, cooperative education programs, drafting, family and consumer sciences and carpentry.

Tech High graduates are successful in their chosen fields. Some prefer to continue their education at college, while others go straight to work.

For example, four years ago the youngest person ever to become ASE certified in electrical/electronic systems graduated from the Automotive Technology Program.

He started at $35,000 per year. Some recent graduates from this course are making over $45,000 per year. Graduates from the computer repair and networking course have titles such as IT manager, network administrator and network technician; their salaries range from $28,000 to $42,000, straight out of high school.

One young lady went straight from her digital communications internship at NBC 25 in 2006 to a full-time job there. She now trains employees in studio operations and may soon begin working in front of the camera.

Clearly, the Washington County Technical High School, along with the other trade programs throughout the county, are doing a fine job of turning out educated, employable students.

Jacqueline Fischer, Clear Spring, and Paul Bailey, Hagerstown, are incumbent candidates for the Washington County Board of Education.

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