This article is the fourth in a six part series that will be published as we begin the 2018-2019 school year. The focus of these articles will be our fiscal, infrastructure, and facility accomplishments, as well as our current status and future challenges. The first article (part 1) focused on our financial history over the past three years and the concept of financial rightsizing; the second article focused on changes in Career and Technical Education, and the third article focused on the condition of our Technical Center and Agriculture facilities. This article will focus on the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo. Future articles will include: Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).
In the last several years, we have begun discussions of moving the Dallas County Technical Center from Louisburg to the High School campus. With the addition of the new District office on 65 highway the Bus and Maintenance facilities are no longer located on the Buffalo High School campus. This space will more than accommodate a new Technical Center to the West of the High School. One of the primary reasons we have to move this school to Buffalo is the educational benefit to our students (Buffalo and other sending schools) and to our staff.
Over the last twenty years the number of credits required for High School graduation by the State of Missouri has increased to 24 credits. One credit is granted for each hourly class a student passes each school year. This number has increased from the 21 credits that were required for graduation in the 1980s. These additional credits are for specific courses that must to be taken (Health, Personal Finance, and an additional credit each of English and Math). These additional credits can take away from the courses students want to take in high school, depending upon their post-graduation interests. Our high school is on a 7 class hours a day schedule. By no means are these additional credits a negative; however, they have limited the flexibility our students have in their class schedules.
When a student takes a course/program at Dallas County Technical Center (DCTC) they travel to the campus in Louisburg for either three class hours in the morning or three class hours in the afternoon. The class time alone equates to 3/7ths of a student’s daily schedule. When we add in the 15 minute travel time each way, for a student who has courses at DCTC, that effectively equates to 4/7th of their schedule. If a student is in a one year program at DCTC they will receive 3 credits for that program and lose the opportunity for an additional course due to travel time. If is student is in a two year program they would receive 6 credits for that program and lose the opportunity to take two additional courses due to travel time. This travel time restricts the number of students who want to take Career and Technical Courses and the number of students who can take courses at DCTC. If this facility were on our high school campus our students would not lose an hour a day of travel time. In addition, being located next to the high school would allow us to offer hourly courses to students who have interest in career and/or technical programs.
One of the areas where we are focusing with the GRO program in Buffalo is to increase the number of student internships we have available with businesses. The capacity for these internships is limited for our students who attend DCTC programs because of the travel time between Buffalo and Louisburg. This would only compound the travel time between the campuses and make it that much more difficult for our students to take advantage of internship opportunities. If DCTC were located in Buffalo our students would have more opportunities for these internships than they do currently.
A new technical center and agriculture facility would also greatly enhance our educational program flexibility. As I have stated in previous articles, the existing DCTC building cannot be modified or enhanced in the current location. We have simply “made do” with what we have for many years. A new facility would be constructed to meet the current needs of our students and our programs. The new construction would also give the facility flexibility in future years that we do not have with the current Louisburg location.
Finally, if DCTC were located in Buffalo there would be the benefit of other services and programs nearby. In its current location, DCTC is over eight miles away from the closest school building in our district and is located eight miles away from emergency services. This adds a complexity for educational and emergency services that is unnecessary. Dallas County Technical Center is extremely important to our District and its location is restrictive for safety and educational needs.
Over the next month or two I will be writing several more articles in this series. The future articles will include: Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story). If you have missed any of these articles they can all be found at www.bisonpride.org under the “About Us” tab.
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Tim Ryan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Dallas County R-I School District