School board approves pre-apprenticeship program

Following a presentation on the pre-apprenticeship program in manufacturing at the Pennsylvania College of Technology by a representative of the college, the Loyalsock Township School board approved an agreement with Penn College for students in the district to participate in the program.

“We’re looking for another avenue for some of our students who may want to get manufacturing technician certification,” said Gerald L. McLaughlin, district superintendent, “and then we’re going to be working with some businesses and industries in the area.”

“We are all aware of the skills gap that is occurring in our various industry sectors,” Ross Berger, the Penn College representative, told the board. He noted how Gov. Tom Wolf’s PA Smart Initiative is seeking ways to build the workforce of the future.

Berger told the group that PA Smart grants are being rolled out through the Department of Labor and Industry are intended to develop pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs.

He said while the premise is the same for both programs–preparing individuals with skills to go into an industry sector or a specific occupation–the difference between the apprenticeship program and the pre-apprenticeship program is that the apprenticeship level takes multiple years and an apprentice is employed by a business. They would also receive technical related instruction at some education provider and get on-the-job training while they’re getting paid to do a job by an employer.

The pre-apprenticeship is the feeder program, he said.

“That’s for individuals that might be looking into going into a particular industry sector. The requirement there is that when you have a registered pre-apprenticeship it must be linked with an apprenticeship program so that there is a clear pathway between the two,” he said.

Berger noted that last year Penn College received one of the PA Smart grants to develop a pre-apprenticeship program in addition to the three apprenticeship programs they already offer in manufacturing. They developed the advanced manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program as a high school-based program that feeds into the apprenticeship programs.

“The pre-apprenticeship program is intended to connect with your career pathways,” Berger said. “Those students who have some idea or who would like to explore going into manufacturing. It’s based on giving instruction in foundational core skills.”

Students involved in the program would take a pre-test at the beginning and do 100 hours of online technical instruction related to the competencies. Throughout the year they would receive instructional support from the college’s staff. Students would also go on campus for six lab days where they would learn hands-on skills in Penn College’s labs and facilities.

Because of the grants, there are no costs for students entering the program for next year and the following year Berger said.

McLaughlin said once the agreement was approved by the board, the district will now reach out to students who would benefit from the program.

In other business, the board approved:

• The Independent Auditors’ Report from Larson, Kellett & Associates, PC for the year ending June 30, 2018.

• The appointment of the following part-time paraprofessionals and their salary rates: Shelly Wright, $11.43 per hour and Jaime Smith and Paige Lewis, $10.65 per hour.

• The appointment of Paige Lewis as a cafeteria monitor at a rate of $8.75 per hour.

• The appointment of Nicole Selleck as a long-term substitute aide at a rate of $10.65 per hour.

The board approved the lists for substitute personnel and spring athletic personnel for the 2018-2019 sports season.

Under personnel items the board also approved the retirement of David Bartraw, who had been a bus driver with the district for 47 years and the resignation of paraprofessionals Hannah Kepler, Shannon Mackler and Carinne Beiter.

Board members in attendance were: Edward H. Ade Jr., David P. Hornberger, Robert D. Leidhecker, John B. Raymond, Carolyn R. Strickland, Melvin E. Wetzel and Paul R. Young II. Absent: Charles W. Edmonds and Christina L. Kiessling.

The next meeting of the board will be a work session at 6 p.m. April 3 at the board conference room, 1605 Four Mile Drive.