Archive for Thursday, February 21, 2008

K-10 transit program viewed as aid to local vo-tech effort

February 21, 2008

Eudora Superintendent of Schools Marty Kobza said the Johnson County Transit K-10 Connector bus system would be an integral piece in a possible partnership between the Eudora School District and area colleges.

"It's called 'two plus two plus two," Kobza said. "What we mean by that is within high school, we'd begin students in a two-year program that's fully articulated with one of the junior colleges - in this case, Johnson County - which means that any credits or certifications they earn in high school can then transfer on to Johnson County Community College. Then, in turn, their credits can transfer to KU, for instance, and then turn into a graduate degree."

The program would begin with the opening in 2010 of the new Eudora De Soto Technical Education Center, which will be built as a result of a $45 million school bond passed by Eudora.

"The tech center being built gives it a very practical place to stop," Kobza said. "By the time that's in place, we'd sure like to have it (stop there)."

The Eudora and De Soto School Districts long have had a partnership via the Eudora - De Soto Technical Education Center. Currently, Eudora students and teachers drive to De Soto for some classes.

"If we have stops along K-10 with the K-10 connector, we can share programs with De Soto - things that they offer and we don't and vice versa," Kobza said. "But in addition, if we had students who wanted more college dual credit offerings than we offer at our site, they could get on the bus and ride it to Johnson County Community College for the last part of their day. Then, parents don't have to worry about their students driving up and down K-10."

The tech center will benefit adults as well as high school students. After attending the Governor's Summit Friday, Kobza said there was a realization that the skilled-labor workforce is undertrained - not undermanned. Kobza's vision is for the district to provide education to that population.

"What this technical center can do, if we do it right with the right partnerships, is train a lot of adults in the evening," Kobza said. "That is a niche that we can fill for our community outside of the realm of kindergarten through high school. It's not just about high school kids getting off the bus there (at the tech center) - that's part of it - but an even bigger part is the retraining.

"We talk all the time - most schools do - in their mission statement about lifelong learning, and then lifelong learning means 'until 12th grade.' We're not just saying it, we're going to put it in place."

The Eudora School District and the Johnson County Transit System currently are in an exploration phase regarding the partnership.

De Soto USD 232 operations director Jack Deyoe said while a K-10 connector stop at De Soto High School would benefit commuters, there are drawbacks if using it to transport high school students to educational programs during the school day.

"It probably would save the district money because the families would be paying daily for it themselves, however there are some legal issues and some liability issues on that," he said. "The vo-tech classes are something your school offers. It's unlikely that every kid could afford to ride the connector bus every day."

- Leann Sulzen contributed to this article.


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