“We can do better.”
That was the message the Adams County Technical Institute (ACTI) Administrative Director Shawn Eckenrode gave to the Littlestown Area School District (LASD) Board at Monday’s work session.
ACTI is the county’s career and technical center, which has served five of the six school districts since approved by the State Board of Education 2020. It provides eight programs for 270 county juniors and seniors, including Allied Health, Building Trades, Computer Networking, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Diesel Technology, Early Learning, and Career Connections.
“We have a bit of a situation in Adams County,” commented Eckenrode, adding that when other counties began to expand their technology and career schools about 50 years ago, Adams County did not. “So our kids have not had the same opportunities.”
Franklin County provides three years of instruction with 23 programs and 1,014 students; Cumberland-Perry, three years, 22 programs, and 1265 students; and York County, four years, 23 programs, and 1658 students. Eckenrode said 212 Adams County students had to compete for the 147 seats available at ACTI this year.
“We need to be able to expand and can’t expand in our current space,” he said. ACTI has a 20,000-square-foot facility, but a recent feasibility study suggests a new facility be between 80,000 and 140,000 square feet to accommodate future needs. The study also recommended adding seven programs.
Eckenrode said there are many advantages to Career and Technical Education, including buy-in from students and parents, fewer dropouts, pathways to college, and careers with marketable degrees. It also works for industry by filling the skills gap and directly connecting learners in high school with employers.
During the last 25 years, the emphasis on education has encouraged most students to pursue four-year degrees. But in reality, said Eckenrode, in most industries, the ratio is 1:2:7 – one advanced degree, two four-year degrees, and seven two-year degrees from technical training or industry certification. “The pendulum is swinging back,” he said.
Funding a facility such as this comes from several pathways: ACTI Authority, federal state or local grants, business and industry partnerships, tuition, and a percentage based on school code. The next step is establishing an ACTI authority, which may happen by the end of February, and then locating and purchasing land using the $500,000 grant from Adams County. The ACTI authority will also seek consulting firms to assist with funding solutions.
In other LASD work session business, a construction update indicated that the project is proceeding as planned except for the tennis courts, which will not be completed until June 2024. The original plan had called for completion in the spring. A live camera has now been placed at the weeksite, and visitors can watch the construction 24/7 from the LASD website.
Construction began on September 13. Phase one’s completion date is scheduled for Dec. 20, 2024. It focuses on the three-story STEM classroom wing, cardio/weight room, multipurpose/athletic space, and tennis courts.
Phase two, slated to finish by June 2025, will focus on the cafeteria production kitchen and food court. The final phase which includes renovations to the 1960s’ Wing, HVAC updates in the 1990s’ Wing and the Learning Commons/Library is expected to be completed by the end of November, 2025.
The regular LASD School Board meeting will take place Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.