OTTAWA — Ottawa Township High School students will have an opportunity to take building trades classes this fall.
However, it won’t be on campus.
Superintendent Matt Winchester announced Monday during the school board’s regular monthly meeting the administration needed the board’s unofficial approval to proceed with making agreements with Area Career Center in La Salle and Indian Valley Area Vocational Center in Sandwich to include OTHS students into their respective building trades programs. The board agreed.
By signing agreements with the two vocational schools the district will be able to offer building trades courses in the fall to all students that apply this summer, regardless of how they may have been previously directed by counselors.
“We’ve always had these opportunities available to us but we chose to do it now due to our financial situation and dropping enrollment (in building trades),” Winchester said. “These two programs expand beyond what we could ever offer before at OTHS.”
Details: Students who choose to enroll at ACC in La Salle will learn residential building trades. Students who enroll in IVACV in Sandwich will learn commercial building trades. Both schools will involve hands-on learning experiences on actual projects within their respective communities. Students will be taken to either school by bus and morning and afternoon classes will be available. Students wishing to apply must do so by calling the school as soon as possible
Savings: School officials expect to save 50 percent to 80 percent of the annual cost of offering a building trades curriculum on campus. Savings depend on enrollment.
Reaction: The nearly 60 people in attendance — most of whom comprise the citizens group Save Our School — seemed OK with the idea after asking questions.
Background: In March, the school board voted to eliminate its building trades program in an effort to help alleviate the district’s $3.2 million budget deficit. The move also meant building trades instructor Dave Keely’s position was eliminated.
Still unsettled: The OTHS board’s action in March may mean it violated the district’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with Ottawa Township High School Education Association — the teacher’s union. The teacher’s union is arguing the district did not follow the proper protocol for a reduction-in-force. The union has filed for arbitration on the matter but has yet to hear a response from the board.
Other updates: OTHS administration has posted on the school’s website a summary of its position regarding the district’s financial position, its efforts to provide building trades curriculum at a reduced cost, other cuts in programming, student disciplinary matters after a student protest in March, and other allegations made by the community against the district. The letter can be found by clicking on the Related Link below.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.