Classes Divided by the Masses?

With countless pushes and prods from students, teachers, and even engineering industry groups, most knew the end result from the start. Nevertheless, a questionnaire was given, votes were counted, input was taken, before the next step began. 

This September, Director of Secondary Education Lucas Lammers developed a student-interest survey, which was given to pupils currently enrolled or interested in Howell’s Project Lead The Way Engineering program. The poll read, “Which new class in the program would you be most interested and willing to take?” 

“There are about a half a dozen options out there for a level three class that we don’t already have,” Engineering teacher Rick Reeves said. “Right now all we have is Digital Electronics.”

The procedure for a new class to go from idea to reality is a long process.

“First we have to go to the curriculum advisor and sell them on why we want this class and make a case for it. We say why it’s needed,” Reeves said. “We must show data that says it’s needed and show that it’s even wanted. That’s why we did the survey.”

Lammers narrowed the survey to four specific courses: Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Aerospace Engineering, Environmental Sustainability, and Civil Engineering and Architecture. However, from the beginning, one course had an advantage over the other three.

“Everybody’s been telling them (the school board) that Aerospace Engineering should be the next class. Part of the reason is that it’s one of the cheaper classes to implement. Computer Integrated Manufacturing would cost about $50,000 worth of equipment plus training, per school. So we are looking at $200,000 for that class, opposed to what would now be about $20,000 for Aerospace Engineering,” Reeves said. 

Financing is especially relevant given the current atmosphere in the district, especially with multiple propositions for tax increases for school funding being struck down by voters, leaving additional funding few and far between. However, before all of that, the new class must be approved by both the curriculum committee and the school board.

“They have to find the money to actually implement the program. If they don’t find the money, then it doesn’t matter what the board says. It’s not going to happen,” Reeves said.

The initial leaning towards a class Aerospace was confirmed by the survey with Aerospace compiling well over 50% of the vote. Civil and Computer Integrated Manufacturing tied for second, with Environmental Studies coming in last. This leaves Aerospace as a new course, pending funding and approval.

“I think input from students needs to be considered greatly,” Reeves said. “But at the same time, we can’t just have any class that we want, we have to have a class that fits the curriculum too.”