Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
By Shelley Grieshop
Local educators back early vocational training
  Local officials were pleased with Gov. John Kasich's proposal to offer vocational school programs to students as early as seventh grade but question the cost and other factors.
"I've known since last fall that this is his intent," said Tim Buschur, director of Tri Star Career Compact. "It's a great idea. I love the idea."
But Buschur said he has concerns, such as finding space for additional students at the four Tri Star sites in Celina, Coldwater, Montezuma and St. Marys.
"He'll (Kasich) attach dollars to this but not enough to, say, build a new vo-ag building. Giving us 3 million more dollars won't help solve the whole problem," he said.
Kasich did not address funding details during his State of the State speech Monday night in Medina.
The Tri Star program educates about 400 juniors and seniors from nine area school districts in 17 fields, such as graphic design, nursing, biomedical, electronics and construction. Students attend half-day classes.
Buschur's other major concern is finding time in the middle school curriculum to add vocational training without eliminating other choices such as choir, art and consumer sciences. It's an issue that also troubles St. Henry schools superintendent Rod Moorman.
"The initiative is appropriate and needed but the problem is, where do the schools find more time to interject a higher dose of career tech?" Moorman said. "All grades in the middle school have mandatory testing so when is the appropriate time to interject CT?"
Vocational courses would likely take the place of preparation time for Ohio Achievement Assessments, which is "not always a good idea," he said.
Moorman envisions a CT class for all middle school students - similar to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program - that includes a rigorous curriculum, team collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving strategies to solve real-world problems.
He supports Kasich's basic proposal.
"Students need exposure to discussion, hands-on experience and visitations (with area industries) to give students a well-rounded experience of what manufacturing or any business is like," Moorman said.
Kasich's plan would allow school districts to opt out of early vocational education opportunities by passing a resolution or waiver.
- Shelley Grieshop
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