Enrollment in Carroll County's career and technology courses is at an all-time high, but two principals say these programs should reach three to five times as many teens.
The principals said the programs should be expanded in space as well as enrollment. Although more than 10 percent of high school students take career and technology courses, the principals would like to see the numbers as high as 35 percent to 50 percent.
"We want to expand it radically," said David Booz of at South Carroll High School, where the county runs a limited career and technology center.
Booz and Catherine Engel, principal of Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster, said these programs can and should draw college-bound students as well as those interested in going straight to a job.
And just as Booz and Engel are recommending reaching a broader range of students, Carroll school enrollment is growing, especially at the high school level.
"Over the next 10 years, we will have better than 200 more students in career and technology programs," Booz said. "Right now, we're at [capacity]. Where are we going to put them?"
He and Engel spoke to the school board Wednesday, urging it to add an expansion of technology facilities to the county's school capital improvements plan.
Currently, the county has the career center administered by Engel next to Westminster High School that draws students from all five county high schools. South Carroll's center has a limited selection of programs, but eliminates the need to transport some students to Westminster.
Preparing for 21st century
About 900 students attend the centers, with most of them at the Westminster school. Programs include trades such as auto mechanics and machine technology, as well as culinary arts, cosmetology and more high-technology computer applications.
"Our goal is to add programs that target high-tech [skills] that prepare students for the 21st century, not just the next 10 years," Booz said.
He and Engel also recommended incorporating career education early as kindergarten and including it at all grade levels.
While career centers have often been known as the trade schools where students go if they aren't college material, that perception has been changing. Many shop classes incorporate algebra and trigonometry. Many use computer-assisted drafting. And a high-level science-math course in engineering, comparable to a freshman college course, is taught at the center as well.
"There is no reason why a student couldn't go to a career and technology program and still be ready for college," Booz said.
He said he would like the new high school, expected to be built near Linton Road in the next few years, to incorporate a high-technology center. If that isn't possible, he said, perhaps the one at South Carroll could be expanded.
School buildings needed
Carroll needs to build several schools in the next five years to accommodate increasing enrollment. Those projects and their backers are competing for a limited county and state dollars for school construction.
Schools Superintendent Brian Lockard said Friday that finding money for an additional, free-standing career center would be very difficult.
But as a committee that includes Booz, school and county officials and parents plans Carroll's next two high schools, it might look at ways to incorporate more high-technology space in those buildings.
"We need to keep in mind that some of this technology can exist in the regular high school," Lockard said. "We need to break out of the mold a little bit."
That is already happening, he said. For example, on Friday, when school was closed for teachers to meet or attend development workshops, the staff at Francis Scott Key High School elected to spend half the day at the Career and Technology Center, getting to know its programs better and how LTC academic subjects are incorporated into the trades.
Pub Date: 1/18/98