Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2004

Eudora to save money on vocational classes by running center

February 19, 2004

After less than a year of classes, it's graduation time for Eudora's newest educational venture. The vocational educational center in Eudora will end its affiliation with Greenbush Educational Consortium at the close of this school year and begin a new chapter with De Soto USD 232.
The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education approved a contract with the De Soto district to run the schools' five programs together without help from the consortium, which ran the Millcreek Center in Olathe, where Eudora and De Soto students had attended.
De Soto's Countryside Learning Center offers agriculture and graphics programs, while Eudora's center, at the former middle school building downtown, offers culinary arts, auto collision repair and health career sciences.
The most obvious benefit for the schools will be the cost savings. Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza said the program cost Eudora about $5,700 per student last year, but next year the district expects to spend just $3,600 per student.
"We will not be profiting from this in any way, shape or form," Kobza said. "But we do want to break even."
Moreover, he said the district would have ultimate authority over the Eudora Technical Education Consortium, as well as rights to property, such as printing presses, even if De Soto leaves the program.
By taking over the programs, the classes will become full-time, offered in both morning and afternoon sessions. If Eudora and De Soto can't fill their 50 purchased slots, Eudora and then De Soto will alternate opportunities to sell those slots to other districts.
"We are taking the major risk," Kobza said.
If the program couldn't draw enough students, Kobza said De Soto would still pay less, but Eudora would pay slightly more. However, he said the districts were attempting to draw more students than last year. Kobza said 60 students had signed up to tour the facilities, and he hoped at least 50 would sign up.
Kobza said USD 491 would be responsible for staff-related activities, including hiring, firing and evaluations, as well as the programs' budgets. The district will also oversee instructional issues like curriculum, and student issues, such as attendance and discipline. Districts sending students to the site will sign three-year agreements outlining how many slots they wish to purchase at the current cost. If costs ended up lower, Kobza said extra revenue would go back into financing the costs of the programs, with fees adjusted in following years.
Outside districts sending students to the two sites will be responsible for providing transportation to the students and for any special education services needed. Other districts will also be charged a $200 administrative fee.
With increased involvement in vocational education, Kobza said he thought school patrons might wonder whether the district had shifted its focus from a college-preparatory curriculum.
"Those kids going to the programs are still eligible (for college)," he said. "We're not narrowing their choices. We're exposing them to possibilities they could get college credit for. We don't want to pigeonhole them."
Moreover, he said the programs gave students an early shot at deciding whether to pursue that field, and if so, whether to do that through work or further study.
Many high schools measured their success by how many students went to college, not how many finished.
"What we're going to track is, 'Are we giving them the skills to finish?'" he said.

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