- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The St. Mary’s school board is accepting comments on a host of proposed changes to high school courses, including deleting five former classes from the official lineup at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center.
Two website design courses will likely be dropped from the course schedules at the county’s three public high schools, while two other courses could be added. A new one-year carpentry course could be added to the Forrest center to complement its current two-year carpentry program.
The five courses proposed to be deleted starting next school year from the Forrest center’s offerings are: Sculpture through Welding; Landscape Design; Sheet Metal Design and Fabrication; Geographic Information Systems; and Sales, Management, and Entrepreneurship.
Theo Cramer, executive director of college and career readiness and the principal at the Forrest center, said the five courses have not been offered for at least five to six years.
“There’s just no need to keep them in the books,” Cramer said.
There are no changes to the actual number of Forrest center completer programs, which number 24, and include trades like plumbing and sheet metal, as well as graphic communication, automotive technology, culinary arts and criminal justice.
The new carpentry course will allow students to complete the program in one school year, similar to other trades like masonry and residential wiring; the two-year carpentry program will continue at the Forrest center.
Next year’s proposal also includes piloting two new courses — an introductory course for the new National Flight Academy that will be housed at the Forrest center and a course titled Introduction to Bioethics, which will initially be offered only at Leonardtown High School.
The course Aerospace Technologies will be the first step in the new flight academy, which will allow select students to learn on high-tech flight simulators. Students enrolled will be taught a basic understanding of aeronautics, the principals of flight, aerospace engineering and space flight, Jeff Maher, executive director of teaching, learning and professional development, said.
Science teacher Robin Solomon, who suggested the bioethics course, said the high-level academic class would look at a variety of issues, including medical, environmental and other ethics-related topics. It would give students who are interested in careers in medicine or science a head start over their college peers, she said.
A host of changes are being made to courses that fall under the Maryland State Department of Education’s web media pathway, including title changes to courses held in the county’s three high schools. Computer Website Development and Web Essentials courses are proposed to be deleted because they no longer align with the Maryland State Department of Education requirements for the pathway.
Two new courses will be added to the high schools’ program of studies — Principals of Arts, Media and Communication and the course Food and Nutrition Science/ProStart Capstone.
The Foundations of Technology course, which all students must take in high school, could be offered as an online course as soon as next school year.
“We’re exploring some options,” Maher told the school board at a Jan. 9 meeting.
Montgomery public schools already offers an online version of the course, and the Maryland State Department of Education is looking at making that course or a similar one available to other school systems in the state, Maher said.
A committee made up of department heads, content-area supervisors and other educators each fall reviews changes to the high school program of studies to submit to the St. Mary’s County Board of Education for its approval. Those changes include adding or deleting entire courses, or, more often, simply changing the wording or title of course descriptions.
Maher told the school board that changes are made each year to help streamline the large document and keep it up to date.
After last week’s presentation, the school board will now hear any public comments on the changes to the 2013-2014 program of studies at a Jan. 30 evening board meeting, which will be held at Chopticon High School. The board is set to take action on the new program of studies at its Feb. 13 meeting.