Williamsport School Board votes to eliminate 2 courses

The Williamsport Area School Board voted in favor of curtailing part of the career and technical education program at the high school during Tuesday’s meeting.

The board voted 6-1 to eliminate AutoCAD and levels one through three of mechanical drawing. Material covered in the courses will be integrated into introduction to engineering, electromechanical/automation I and II, and advanced automation classes.

Michael Reed, high school principal, said the decision to eliminate the two courses came after discussing it with industry consultants and the state Department of Education.

He also reported that low enrollment in the courses forced the school to create additional elective courses in order to fill the lone instructor’s schedule.

The decision to eliminate the courses did result in a position elimination, but the board did not elaborate on whether the instructor would be able to find employment elsewhere in the district.

Dr. Jane Penman, board member, voted against the item, saying it would take opportunities away from students. She added that the skills learned in the courses are “fundamental skills.”

“I really think we’re doing an injustice to our students,” Penman said.

Reed reported that the decision would affect no more than five students next school year.

“We’re not saying we’re trying to get rid of AutoCAD we’re trying to enhance it,” said Randy Zangara, ninth-grade principal.

But Penman disagreed, noting that students would lose out on dual enrollment courses at Pennsylvania College of Technology. She said the decision did not have the students’ best interest in mind.

“We keep shrinking,” she said. “We keep shrinking opportunities, and it really bothers me.”

Thomas Zimmerman, board vice president, said he had full confidence in the district’s administration to make the right decision and “not a reckless, single-minded decision to save a few bucks.” He added that it wouldn’t be a “crippling blow” to the program.

Board member Jay Shultz said he would be interested in seeing a CAD course eventually be worked back into the CTE program, which Reed said was possible.

In other news, the board also voted to approve funding its Odyssey of the Mind team’s registration and transportation fees for its trip to the World Games at Michigan State University.

The team won the state competition and will compete in the world event in May.