By Michael Strand

The Salina Journal

Of the roughly 40 people on the Salina School District's Career and Technical Education committee, a total of zero favored the idea of dividing high schools into "academies" during a meeting Tuesday.

Over the past two weeks, various members of the committee toured Garden City High School, Manhattan High School, the Center for Advanced Professional Studies in Overland Park, the Career Pathways Institute in Grand Island, Neb., Joplin High School in Missouri and Hutchinson High School. They not only saw how those facilities deliver career and technical programs, but got ideas for the upcoming renovations of Salina South and Central high schools.

At Tuesday's meeting, the group discussed what was seen at each of the six high schools, and what features they might want to incorporate in Salina's schools.

Academy concept panned

The "academy" concept, which is in use at Garden City, has a Freshman Academy, a School of Arts and Communication, a School of Trade and Health Sciences and a School of Public Service, with each having its own area of the building, so students in different academies don't mix much; even lunches are scheduled separately.

The idea of keeping ninth-graders separate from the three upper grades seemed to have little support.

Don't separate 9th-graders

Dennis Lauver, president and CEO of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, said he liked the concept at the middle school level. He said he's glad his son in sixth grade is separated from seventh- and eighth-graders.

Superintendent Bill Hall noted that the Garden City school has twice the enrollment of South or Central, and he didn't think separating freshmen here would be an efficient use of space.

Central Principal Shanna Rector said that even though Garden City High School has about 2,000 students, there is still some mixing, such as to balance class sizes in core subjects such as English.

Some ideas supported

Ideas that drew the most support from the committee included:

--Highly visible administrative offices;

--Use of natural lighting;

--Large bulletin boards in hallways;

--Hallways that also contain spaces where groups of students can work together on projects;

--At least one window in each classroom;

--Removable classroom partitions;

--Partnerships with local companies;

--An "industrial kitchen" for a culinary arts program;

--Lots of security cameras and controlled entry to the building;

--Lots of storage;

--No lockers.

Regarding the "no lockers," which was noted at Joplin High School, Rector said she estimates about 10 percent of students at Central use their lockers.

Hall said former South Principal Linn Exline, now executive director of school improvement, has suggested that next year, lockers be given only to students who request them.

(c)2014 The Salina Journal