DV talks career center upgrade

Engine repair, health care, criminal justice are some of the programs possible with updated facility


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  • School board members listen to a presentation on upgrades to the career center. (Photo by Anya Tikka)



Timeline

Fall 2014 — Career and Technical Education Center site visits and programming
Spring 2015-Summer/Fall 2016 — New elementary school and high school gym addition construction
Winter 2014-Spring 2015 — Start design
Summer 2016 — Start construction
Fall 2017 — Complete construction

By Anya Tikka

— School board members attended a presentation about plans to upgrade Delaware Valley's Career and Technical Education Center, which would the district to expand its occupation offerings.

At their August meeting, members of the Delaware Valley school board quizzed the presenters, educational consultant Clyde K. Hornberger and Don Flynn of Burkavage Design Associates, about the upgrade.

The new programs that would be offered at the center include recreational vehicle and small engine repair, emerging health care professionals training, and criminal justice and security/law enforcement. These programs will allow the district to get more money from subsidies and grants, and to share resources, like equipment and teaching.

Board members said many of the occupations in these programs may not be available in this part of the state. The district’s representatives had already approached 12 or 13 employers in the area, including advertising firms and auto body shops for welders, to see who might be willing to take students.

“Is there an assessment for the need for them?" asked board member Sue Casey about the programs. "Do you have any data for how needed these are? Where’s the piece of paper that gives me some of the data behind it?”

Hornberger said an analysis was done on the materials but that he didn’t have it with him.

Casey continued: “If we’re going to go out to the community and ask for money — say a million dollars or ten million dollars, even maybe we’re not going to raise your taxes for it but take a loan and pay it back over years — I would want to say, it’s because we interviewed 80 local businesses who told us we need programs to give our kids here, to give them opportunities. We’re all going to need some sort of selling point.”

Board member O’Leary called the upgraded center "a big incentive."

"A lot of kids would like to keep their kids here," he said.

Board chair Pam Lutfy asked that it be put on the board's agenda.

"The people who are going to pay for this are the people who live here," she said. "If we’re going to go and say we need ten million dollars more, we’re going to have to say what it's about, what’s the payoff.”

Counting students

The number of students going to career tech courses this year was not immediately available. It depends on how many seniors have changed their minds over summer about what programs they'd like to take. As for future demographics, nobody can make a rock solid projection at this point.

A course titled Diversified Occupations will be taught in the coming academic year, 2014-15. O’Leary asked how the instructors, who will be drawn in part from local businesses, will be vetted.

“Diversified education would need pretty diversified teachersl,” he said. “What scares me about these diversified occupations, what teaching credentials do you have to take in order to teach this thing? We really have to know who we’re sending these children out to.”

Hornberger said "there’s a process for this that’s included in on-site assessment.” Business people and other professionals who agree to teach will come to Delaware Valley twice a month to learn basic instruction skills, he said.

"It’s almost like a mentor-based program," said Hornberger. "We provide the instruction materials for you.”

Getting college credits for students who attend these programs is also being worked out.

The presenters outlined three different ways of structuring the upgrade:

Moving around classrooms and workshops

Building classrooms and workshops

Using the current parking area

The three options are based on course needs, cost considerations, and a budget-based mix.

The board agreed to do several studies before making any decisions.


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