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Superintendent talks

Padasak reveals his goals for district

Padasak reveals his goals for district

April 22, 2007

Editor's note: On Tuesday, Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Joseph Padasak sat down with Herald-Mail reporter Don Aines for a question-and-answer session. Following is the transcript, edited for length, of that session.

Q: What's your vision for the Franklin County Career & Technology Center in the next five to seven years? Who should own it and run it, how will building be expanded or changed?

Padasak: ... All six districts should have a say in how the thing is run, and they all should have some form of monetary ties to it, but the reality is, several of them told us they don't have the money to put into any capital improvements, so it looks like we're going to do the lion's share of capital improvements in that part of it.

Now, the operations part, I still think that everyone should have a say in it, and it should be for all children (in the county) because what's good for our children has got to be good for the rest of the county's children. So I'm skirting around the question, but the bottom line is ... we don't need another school to run, but we will if that's what the will of the county is. ...

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But my vision for it is, no matter who's running it, it has to be a state-of-the-art facility, that industry has told us. ... in other words, I want industry people saying, "Here are what the jobs are gonna be in this area in the future and that's what we offer now, those type of courses." ... I want the curriculum to be driven by the industry in this area, and that is not the case currently. So if we can get the curriculum driven by the industry, I think that'll make it a program where students will understandably go and ... they'll have a future if they want to stay, or they can go on to post-secondary high school.

I think ... the bar should be raised so that all children definitely go on to post-secondary high school if they want to. So currently we have 25 programs down there. We're gonna expand the offerings to about 30-some. We'll phase them in over a period of time ... our goal is to have at least 25 kids in each program ... I'd like to have a tech center as well, and a menu-driven system where you have multiple delivery systems that the children can access.

Q: How many students do you think will be there?

Padasak: ... We're gonna have 375, almost 400 children there next year. My goal would be the year after that to increase that to about 450 ... phase it in. Within five years, we would have 700 of our children there. I don't think we'll ever get more than that. ... You hear these figures of 800 and 1,000 - that's pie in the sky.

Now, for the tech part, I also envision having two other parts there, a self-contained vocational alternative program, where it would have academics and shops in their own program, self-contained. It would be on that campus, but not with that setup. ...

The other aspect we would have there would be a life skills hospitality service industry-type center where children who are basically (having a hard time) functioning in the learning center would be able to learn things for the hospitality industry and the food service, and they'd be able to learn things there and then go out and do them in this area. Those two programs are separate, in separate units there.

Q: What do you have to do to convince the other five districts, and maybe even some of your own school board members, that this is the right course to take?

Padasak: We've done the study from Winters. (Thomas R. Winters is a former deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education who was hired by the school district to study and make recommendations regarding programs at the FCCTC.) ... I think he's done all the background work to do that. I think the members on our board that are hesitant say that, No. 1, the center is doing OK, all you gotta do is upgrade it. You don't need to be doing a wholesale change there. And I think there are some districts out there, two of them in specific, that think the same way. And so they just want to use it to send children down there that are not motivated, and hopefully they'll get motivated.

I think the majority of our board and the progressive part of this community says wait a minute, that's a realistic avenue for education; promote it. So my goal here is when you get in eighth grade, we have a clear path tomorrow. I would like to have all districts have a clear path to tomorrow.

... We just gotta be open with them and say here's the situation. Here's the offerings we have. I think we want to make it state-of-the-art and make it progressive, driven by industry and business, so other districts will want to come there.

Q: Before you became superintendent, the district purchased more than 70 acres up near Greenvillage, Pa., for another secondary school, and then they reversed course. They decided to renovate and expand a 50-year-old high school rather than the original idea, which was one large high school. Was it the right decision, and why or why not?

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