On any given school day, the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster is abuzz with students working on anything from cars to cosmetics to building brick structures.
Thanks to a memorandum of understanding (MOU), students from Pennsylvania will soon have the opportunity to take part in the Tech Center’s numerous offerings.
Carroll County Public Schools has entered into an agreement with the Littlestown Area School District that will allow some students from the Pennsylvania school district to attend the Tech Center in programs that have open seats. The MOU was discussed at the Feb. 14 school board meeting.
Littlestown, which has a similar agreement in place with Gettysburg Area High School, approached CCPS with the question of whether they could also work something out with Carroll, Tech Center Principal Bill Eckles said, adding that “Littlestown offers very little in that vein.”
Eckles said when he was approached by Central Office after they discussed the idea with Littlestown, he supported the concept.
“It’s important that we make sure that we’re not taking spaces away from Carroll County students, but often, we have programs that have seats available that go unused,” he said.
Eckles said it’s somewhat complicated, because the school itself is “fuller than we’ve ever been” with 832 students in a building built for 350 students. The large amount of students is not equally distributed, Eckles said, and some of the programs have “fairly substantial waiting lists.” CCPS is still moving forward with looking at a Tech Center renovation and expansion, he added, and said the Education Speculations Committee is set to present its findings to the school board in the coming months.
But while CCPS is struggling to fit students in programs that have waiting lists — like C.I.S.C.O. Networking Academy, engineering and Academy of Health — there are a handful of programs with open seats, and those courses would be available to the Littlestown students, Eckles said.
“A student who would like to be in the Academy of Health professions is not usually interested in masonry as a second choice,” he said. “We’re looking at five or six programs here that have had historically some open seats.”
For next year, those programs include Geographical Information Systems Technologies and Teacher Academy of Maryland, which are housed in Westminster High School; Auto Service Technology; Carpentry; Collision Repair Technology; Manufacturing and Machine Technologies; and Masonry and Construction Technology.
There are currently 27 open seats, Eckles said, for next year’s enrollment. Some will fill up with CCPS kids before the start of the next school year, and there could be 12 to 15 students who come in from Littlestown, he said.
Eckles said Littlestown will pay tuition for students who come from Pennsylvania, and will be in charge of transporting them.
“This is the first” time the CCPS Tech Center has done something like this, he said.
“Its a good thing for us in that it just shows that even outside of Carroll County people see our Tech Center as a premier program and place that they would like their students to be,” Eckles said. “In my mind, there is a skills gap out in the community and we get a lot of workers in Carroll County in the manufacturing plants and different places that live in Littlestown, and so for our region I think it helps us with workforce development, I think it helps the local economy and certainly I think our programs are top of the pile, so to have as many kids as possible to take advantage of them I think is good for us in general.”