The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 26, 2014

Van Buren working to save its ag program

KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board has voted to table any decision on the future of its ag program until its April 9 meeting.

More than a dozen supporters of the program attended the board meeting last week. With declining numbers and a tight budget, the district has been exploring alternatives that would allow students to still take ag classes but perhaps share them with another school.

Administrator Mary Dawn Schuck told the board part of what’s driving the changes and the challenges in scheduling is a reduction in the variety of courses, especially in the core subjects.

“For example, in 2006-07, Van Buren offered 11 1/2 Carnegie Units of English,” said Schuck. According to Wikipedia, a Carnegie Unit is 120 hours of class or contact time with an instructor over the course of a year at the secondary (high school) level. “What’s offered and what’s required make a difference,” Schuck said. “Now we offer 6 1/2 Carnegie Units. That’s a lot of classes that aren’t available.” That increases the odds of “bumping” an ag class up with a required course.

“There is a little wiggle room,” she said. “There are some locally required classes that we can look at and add another English option which might give some flexibility, but that adds to your full-time equivalent. We’re looking at doing what we can to give the flexibility to the students.”

Parents, students and the instructor asked the board to keep the ag program within the school and find ways to avoid scheduling conflicts and try to strengthen the program, such as having some of the courses taught for college credit.

Mike Kisling was against sharing with a program out of the county. “As a taxpayer of this county, I don’t favor my tax money going to other counties,” he said.

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