IWCS to withdraw from Pruden Center

Published 10:35 am Friday, February 26, 2016

The Isle of Wight County School Board on Wednesday unanimously voted to withdraw from the school system’s participation with the Pruden Center in Suffolk, which specializes in vocational education.

Lynn Briggs, spokeswoman for IWCS, said on Thursday that the facility has a number of slots that are allocated to different schools.

“You might have five for culinary arts, but have 20 students who want it. There are might be 20 for automotive repair, but only five who want it,” said Briggs, adding that they can’t be shuffled around.

IWCS still has to pay $950,000 regardless. So a new idea developed.

“If we invest the money to develop our own program, we control the time, money and schedules, which can be flexible,” she said.

The county school system will, however, participate for one more year after this one.

The voting came after a presentation from Assistant Superintendent Heather Tuck on the Career and Technical Education Instruction Plan. Tuck first noted that the projection of future careers in the Hampton Roads region. Welders, HVAC, EMT and Certified Nurse’s Assistant will be in demand.

Businesses, she said, are looking for graduates that have the ability to work in a team with little supervision, brainstorm for conflict resolution, communicate effectively and have a strong work ethic.

Career paths include agriculture, such as working with animals or in agricultural power, structural and tech systems, such as the building trades of Brickmasons, carpenters, electricians, etc.

Other paths include technology and engineering. Information Technology is predicted to have 70,000 jobs in the Hampton Roads region with entry level salaries ranting from $50,000 to $97,000.

In answer to the question of why CTE is so important, Tuck explained that there’s an average of 450 graduates each year from IWCS; 45 percent go to college; and around 248 not going to college and need a career pathway.

Currently, CTE offerings at home schools include IT fundamentals, introduction to culinary arts, personal finance and economics and marketing, to name a few.

“Pruden Center is wonderful opportunity for some of our students,” she said. “About 65 of the 140 students completed courses leading to viable industry certifications.”

But reasons for many not attending include schedule conflicts, the time spent out of the home school and event interest changes.

IWCS pays for 220 slots annually and 140 slots are filled. As mentioned earlier, $950,000 is paid to send students annually, “which equals to $6,786 per student for the 140 we have been averaging the past three years,” Tuck said. “Out of the 140 attending each year, our records indicate that 66 students passing a certification was the most in a single year.”

She believes the school system can restructure its current program to make them work better for the students.

“We could offer culinary arts, engineering, manufacturing systems, CNA, and information technology at Smithfield High School; it will not cost us more. At Windsor High School, EMT, agriculture, information tech, engineering and personal finance online.

The first year there would not be an impact on the budget.

“We are still committed to Pruden Vo-Tech next year,” she said. “Two hundred-twenty slots in year one plan. We recognize there are more choices at Pruden. We can still send a select number through PDCCC or Thomas Nelson for $517 to $1,600 per class.”


In other school news:

Robb Moore of Metal Roof and Building Consultant gave an analysis of roof repairs to county schools.

This was not, he emphasized, a bidding for the jobs.

Windsor High and Georgie D. Tyler schools have metal and low slope roofs, whereas Carrsville and Windsor elementary schools have shingles and a low slope.

Moore looked at the roofs of all the schools and found the biggest problems are with the shingle buildings, such as Carrsville. Carrollton was the worst though, with the most reported leaks. There have been several attempts in the past to repair. Carrsville is in a similar situation, but not as bad, he added. Shingles are the biggest problems for both Carrsville and Windsor elementary schools.

At Windsor High, the skylights are dried out around bushings. In Georgie D. Tyler, the ridge cap should be monitored regularly.

For Carrsville, about $350,000 would be needed; $895,000 for Windsor Elementary.

Isle of Wight is not alone in this problem, Moore added. Other localities in Virginia are enduring such issues.

Kristin Cook of the Smithfield District made the motion to begin regular meetings for the public at 6 p.m., with the Pledge of Allegiance, Isle of Wight Achievers and residents to follow before all other issues at hand.

“Speaking as a citizen, it’s tough for citizens to know when to show up and see what it is we are doing,” Cook said.

Chairwoman Julia Perkins of Windsor District said the rationale for the current schedule has been to keep meetings from becoming so long. Ultimately, the board agreed 5-0 to make the change.