2010-11-25 / Local & State

SF Hears Vo-Tech Update

Talks about delinquent submission of taxes by tax collector
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

The newly selected, part-time executive director of the Fulton County Area Vocational-Technical School sat down with the Southern Fulton School Board last week to recap several issues ranging from student achievement and cost-cutting measures to curriculum and facility growth.

First turning his sights to reducing expenditures, Director Don Burd eyed technology support costs that once totalled $589 in the 2007-08 school year and have reached a current level of $1,300. Burd then touched on cleaning expenditures related to the district office and classrooms that total $2,500 annually. It was noted that Burd, administrative staff and teachers are now chipping in to clean the facilities.

In addition, the annual Perkins Grant that was once used to offset the expense related to employment of a guidance counselor will now be redirected to program instructional equipment. Items mentioned by Burd include a computer for a 3D scanner as well as classroom computers.

Moving on to the topic of programming, Burd pointed out Chapter 339 dictates what the vocational technical school can offer in terms of program length. The school currently offers a threeyear program to its participants, but could actually be reduced to one or two years. Looking at issues such as travel and scheduling conflicts, Burd suggested the school look at moving to a twoyear program.

Concerned about current enrollment numbers, the executive director reported numbers have dropped since the 2007-08 school year when a total of 177 students from the three county school districts participated in the vo-tech. The following year, 175 students were participating in classes. In 2009-10, enrollment increased to 188 and has dropped to 143 this year.

Enrollment is crucial, according to Burd, who noted the state reimburses the school $840 per student. In hopes of boosting enrollment, the director suggested replacing programs that are showing declining numbers with programs that not only lead to in-demand jobs but are also cost-effective. The Work Investment Board may serve as a venue for helping select those programs. Suggestions shared were small engine repair, food service, graphic design, cosmetology, computer repair/ maintenance, building repair/ maintenance and painting/ decorating.

Current enrollment numbers show 18 students are participating in the ag mechanics/production course, while 15 students are taking carpentry. The co-op program has a total of 29 student participants, while Allied Health and childcare have 26 and 25 students, respectively.

Burd wrapped up his presentation with an announcement he had been approached by local businessman Bill Palmer, who owns the site of the former Fulton County Medical Center. The two discussed the 58,000-square-foot building and the possibility of the vocational-technical school moving into the facility. Even though the building is much larger than the school’s current needs, it does have functioning equipment that could be readily used in a culinary arts program.

A land developer has also spoken with Burd about the possibility of constructing a facility at no cost to the school aside from a long-term lease. Discussions are ongoing.

Partnerships that could be established to help offset future costs for the vo-tech are adult education programs, an LPN program, daycare for seniors and a partnership with Volvo/Cummins to offer a diesel mechanics program.

In other matters heard by the school board, musical director Carolyn Mottern thanked the board for its ongoing support of the annual school musical. Mottern also showed her appreciation for contractor Dave Smith, who provided transportation for the elementary children to see the recent production of “The Whiz.” Students Emma Crouse and Isaac Hartman performed a musical selection from the show for the board and others on hand. In addition to Crouse and Hartman, 43 other students participated on stage and behind the scenes to make the show a huge success.

In personnel-related matters, the board regretfully accepted the retirement letter submitted by board and superintendent secretary Betty Feagley effective January 31. Permission was granted to advertise for the position.

The board approved Michael Wagner and Alex Serrano to serve as substitute teachers. Darlene Shaffer was given permission to serve as a substitute secretary during the current 2010-11 school year.

Andrew Brown will be serving as assistant track and field coach for 2010-11 as per recommendation of the district’s athletic director.

Ag teacher Rebecca Mosemann will take a leave of absence through the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 beginning March 21 and concluding June 1.

The National Honor Society will travel to Chicago from April 29 through May 1 to visit various educational and cultural sites.

Having failed to approve the first-reading last month, the board voted unanimously last Tuesday to accept the first-reading of policies entitled Pupils, Use of Motor Vehicles and Operations, Meal Accounts. Superintendent Kendra Trail noted the meal account policy was changed to reflect the wishes of the board.

A school-bus-stop-ahead sign was approved for placement at the Diana Hull residence at 563 Harmonia Road, Warfordsburg.

During the work session and board meeting, the board and administration took ample time to discuss how a situation involving former Union Township tax collector Terra Strait should be handled. According to information divulged at the meeting, Strait had been repeatedly delinquent in the remission of taxes and reconciliation sheets to the district.

As a result, it was suggested the district attempt to recuperate lost interest plus legal fee and enact a policy that would resolve this issue and set precedence for any future incidents down the road. The board further discussed the issue as possible litigation during a 21-minute executive session. No action was taken upon reconvening.

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