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February 1, 2013

Carroll and Logan considering voc ed partnership

Century Career Center classes could be feasible for nearby Flora school’s students

FLORA — Carroll schools are considering sending a few of their juniors and seniors to Logansport to finish vocational pathways next year, in a move administrators say is meant to expand the variety of opportunities for Carroll high-schoolers.

About 350 Carroll junior and senior high students toured Logansport’s Century Career Center in January to give them a taste of what’s available at a dedicated career center.

“We’re just looking to see what they’re offering,” said Superintendent Chris Lagoni.

If enough students are interested in taking classes available through Century Career Center, Lagoni said, the corporation will look into partnering with the center to expand its vocational offerings.

James Little, director of the career center, said including Carroll students would be “awesome.”

“The more students filling the programs, the more opportunities we have to expand the programs,” Little said.

The center partners with six schools already — Logansport, Lewis Cass and Pioneer high schools in Cass County, Winamac Community High School in Pulaski County, and Caston Junior-Senior High School and Rochester High School in Fulton County.

The vast majority of career center students are Logansport high-schoolers, but Caston sends 38 students to the career center, 10 students come from Rochester and another 25 come from Winamac, Little said.

Carroll Junior-Senior High School already has a full agricultural program and much of a culinary arts program available in-house, as well as classes in family and consumer sciences, art and communication, engineering/science/technology and business. Carroll partners with other schools in the Indian Trails Career Cooperative, based in Monticello, so Carroll high-schoolers can pursue other pathways, too.

But since Carroll is on the southern edge of the cooperative, transportation to other schools — like Twin Lakes or North White in White County — can be an issue.

“One of the big issues in vocational education, especially for small rural schools, is transportation,” Lagoni said. “Because of property tax caps, schools are very limited to where they can bus kids to for all the vocational offerings.”

And it’s tough for families to cover their students’ transportation themselves, he added.

“Quite honestly, fuel costs feed into why kids don’t complete vocational programs,” said Lagoni. “Sometimes they get behind on credits, but transportation costs are a reality.”

Although it’s a rural school, Carroll is close enough to other corporations that students living near the borders could take classes elsewhere through cooperative agreements, said Lagoni. Carroll schools share borders with two corporations each in Howard and Clinton counties, as well as with corporations in the Indian Trails cooperative and some that cooperate with Century Career Center already.

“Our geographic area is a strength and we need to use those resources to allow opportunities for students, if they exist and we explore them,” he said.

Costs to send Carroll students to the Logansport career center are also “very reasonable,” Lagoni said. “It makes it very attractive. It’s one of the lowest costs in the area.”

It all hinges, though, on how many students want to pursue pathways not already available in-house. Students began completing their annual interest surveys last week to register interest in various high-school classes, so the school will have a better idea in a few weeks whether students will take classes through the career center, according to high school principal Angela Moreman.

Whatever the number, it won’t be “huge,” Lagoni said. At this point, the tours were meant to make students aware of the variety of career paths they could take.

“A lot of this is just helping kids build a vision,” he said.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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