Richland Two Board Talks Shop Class, Calendar
Community members support woodworking at RNE
Board and community members discussed the possible elimination of woodworking at Richland Northeast High School and Richland Two's mid-winter break during Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting.
The woodworking and auto body programs at Richland Northeast both face elimination to make room for other programs that district leaders said received increased demand.
But during the public comment period, students and community members expressed their desire to keep the program viable.
"It's a program that I look forward to every single day," RNE student Jeremy Johnson said. "It's a program that I'd really hate to see go away."
Johnson circulated a petition at Richland Northeast and said he collected 296 signatures in favor of keeping both the woodworking and auto body programs intact.
"It's a program where not only do we learn about basic woodworking skills, but I've also learned about how to run a small business," said Johnson, who used his skills to start his own business.
Board members said the programs would be replaced by a health sciences course and a culinary arts course, both of which had been requested by students at Richland Northeast.
But board member Barbara Specter said she was concerned that eliminating shop courses could leave students without comparable alternatives.
"Every student is not going to be a four-year college student," Specter said. "I know there are a lot of students who are going to be working with their hands. There are a lot of students who have grown up watching their parents be mechanics or an electrician or a plumber, and there's nothing wrong with having those jobs.
"I think that's where we're losing some of our students," Specter said. "Because we're trying to make them do things or make them feel that [woodworking] is not important and that's not true."
Teachers at Richland Northeast have already been informed about the pending program cuts and encouraged to seek other employment for the 2012-13 school year. Barring board action, the program transition will occur next year.
2012-13 Academic Calendar
The board also received a proposal for the 2012-13 academic calendar.
The proposed calendar included a mid-winter break scheduled for Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2013, which drew questions and concerns from the board.
Richland Two is piloting a mid-winter break for the first time this year, and the board had hoped to see results from the experiment before voting on next year's calendar. However, since those results may not be complete until May, the board will likely have to decide whether to include the break in 2013 without results from 2012.
"The thoughts were that there would be some kind of sick leave benefits or academic benefits [because of the mid-winter break]," board member James Manning said. "If we don't get some kind of feedback, then my inclination is to not approve the full week as it stands."
According the the calendar committee, a majority of students and staff surveyed favored the schedule that included the mid-winter break.
Board members said they had already waited longer than usual to approve the 2012-13 schedule and would like to move quickly to allow time for parents to plan vacations in advance.
If adopted, the calendar would include the following important dates:
First Day of School: August 20, 2012
Christmas Break: Dec. 20, 2012 to Jan. 3, 2013
Mid-winter Break: Feb. 19-22, 2013
Spring Break: April 1-5, 2013
Last day of School: June 6, 2013
The Richland Two board could vote on the proposed plan as soon as its next meeting on Feb. 7.