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Tyrone Area considering changes to career and technology education program

The Tyrone Area School District has been working on changes to its career and technology program and Tuesday the district’s school board will be asked to okay the administration’s request to seek state Department of Education approval for the changes.
The district is looking to add a protective services program and eliminate its automotive mechanics program.
The protective services program is designed to provide training in law enforcement, fire fighting and emergency services. The program will include training in the criminal justice system, criminal investigation procedures, juvenile justice, defensive tactics, police administration, operation procedures, accident investigation, property control and private security. Other training will be offered in fire fighting including fire prevention, fire fighting equipment as well as fire and emergency activities, fire administration and planning. Emergency medical services and dispatch training will also be offered.
Superintendent Dr. William N. Miller said the district had hired an instructor for the second half of the recently completed school year to devise the course. Miller said the district had more than enough students to institute the program.
“We are offering it, on the one hand, because of the demand and the interest of the students,” said Dr. Miller. “On the other hand, we are dropping a much more expensive program in auto tech.”
The yearly cost of the new program will be about $50,000, which includes the instructor’s salary, benefits and class materials.
“In the (auto tech) program, you have auto 1, 2 and 3,” said Dr. Miller. “The other program (protective services) is completely enrolled. In auto tech, we only have 20 students next year. In auto 1, (there are) nine students, auto 2, (has) seven students and in auto 3, (there are) four students. We had a teacher and an instructional assistant for each of those classes.
“We also had a requisition of $35,000 just for equipment next year and that’s an ongoing (expense) in trying to keep up with technology in the auto arena. We had a lower number of students and a higher cost per pupil obviously,” said Dr. Miller.
The district estimated the automotive program would have cost $95,000 to run in 2006-07 with the $35,000 equipment investment, faculty salary, benefits and other costs.
Miller said the district decided to seek approval of the change due to the demand for the training offered by the protective services program because of “terrorism” and other factors. He also noted the protective services program would not have the costly updates for equipment that the automotive program requires.
School board member Ray Detwiler told The Daily Herald that he and some other school board members were surprised by the administration’s proposed request that was discussed at last week’s work session. Detwiler wondered if the automotive students affected by the program were aware of the impending change.
Dr. Miller said, “It’s something the (school) board is aware of. I keep them informed about enrollments, I send board bulletins out every week. They were aware of the enrollment issues.”
Dr. Miller said students enrolled in the automotive program were offered “a second choice.” He said those needs would be met first. Those who still wanted to continue in the automotive program would be required to pass a test to be eligible for it. The district would then attempt to have those students enrolled in the Greater Johnstown Technology Center provided there was a spot available in that program.
Detwiler also wondered about the cost-effectiveness of having the students attend the technology center versus keeping the program on-site.
Dr. Miller said he guessed, “half or less” of the 20 students interested in the automotive program would end up in the technology center option. The cost to the district for that option is $5,000 per student.
High School Principal Dr. Rebecca Erb said about 50 students are enrolled in the protective services program.
She said she would work with the students in the automotive program regarding their schedules once the school board makes a decision on the administration’s request.
If the board approves the request to seek PDE approval of the changes, Dr. Erb said she would inform the students involved and work with them personally to change their schedules using the options available.
Dr. Miller said once the board gives its okay, the approval from the PDE is a formality.