School board to discuss technology magnet plan

March 10, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

A technology magnet program, due to start at two new high schools in 1996, will top the agenda at today's abbreviated Howard County school board meeting.

Board members have agreed to end the 4 p.m. meeting early to be able to attend the 6 p.m. funeral of William T. Manning, a former school board chairman who died of cancer Saturday.

Today, board members will receive a staff report on the magnet program, still under development.

That plan calls for the 605-student School of Technology to close at the end of the 1996 school year, after the last of its students have graduated. The building would be renovated and reopen a year later as an applications and research laboratory for technology magnet students.

The program would give students the chance to study space technology, environmental energy, biotechnology, structure design and robotics.

The program would rely heavily on the business and surrounding community. By their senior year, students would be required to spend up to four days a week at industrial and research facilities, working with professionals and educators in their studies.

"It takes the existing technology program and it broadens it in terms of course offerings," said Daniel Jett, director of high schools. "It gives [the technology program] more depth and height for a broader cross-section of students, in terms of their interests and abilities."

Students who enter the technology magnet program will choose among three options.

One path would prepare them for employment, another for community college or technical school.

The third option would prepare students who want to study math, science or engineering at four-year colleges.

Under the plan approved by the board, students could enroll at either River Hill High School or the Long Reach high school, which are not yet built, at the beginning of ninth grade.

They also could take "core courses" in their chosen technical fields at any of the county's high schools and then transfer to either of the two new technology schools before their junior year.

Such core courses would be treated as electives. They could include existing courses, such as computer applications, and new ones, such as statistical analysis, systems planning and organization and group problem solving.

School officials will write the curriculum for new courses beginning this summer.

When the program opens, technology magnet students who otherwise would have attended Glenelg, Atholton, Wilde Lake and Centennial high schools will be assigned to River Hill, while those who would have attended Mount Hebron, Howard, Oakland Mills and Hammond will be assigned to the Long Reach high school.

Among the agenda items postponed because of tonight's time restrictions are the release of local results of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, a hearing on the western elementary school site, and a vote on the family and medical leave policy.

Today's board meeting takes place at the Department of Education, 10910 Route 108, in Ellicott City.

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