• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCMS council tables decision on cutting ag class

After listening to objections from FFA students and others in the farming community on Monday, the Woodford County Middle School site-based council agreed to not take action on eliminating an agriculture teaching position next school year. Woodford County High School junior Sydney Beavers urged the council to not eliminate agriculture classes at WCMS because students need career and technical education opportunities. "Exposing students to career and technical education in middle school is so essential to letting them explore what sets their soul on fire to make a difference in this world," said Sydney. She credits her own career and technical education opportunities for giving her a passion to become a trauma nurse in the U.S. Army so she can serve those who have served their country. In voicing Woodford County Farm Bureau's support for giving students opportunities to learn about agriculture and join a FFA chapter, its president, Melissa Tomblin, said, "It's very important that we keep these classes." Of the 299 WCMS students who have taken her agriculture classes since August, teacher Mikayla Johnson said 52 of them are FFA members. She said they have all developed supervised agricultural experience programs, where they learn about expenses and profits. "It's not just farming ... There's so much to it," said eighth-grader David Clark, who acknowledged he didn't understand what students learn in agriculture classes until he took one himself. The WCMS site-based council previously had a first reading on a proposed 2017-18 master schedule that would eliminate a core subject area teaching position and an agricultural teaching position. Its decision on Monday to table a vote on a second reading will allow the council members to explore its options. While Principal Tracy Bruno invited alternative ideas to eliminating the only agriculture teaching position at WCMS, he said, "At the end of the day, we lose two (teaching) positions." He said a large class of eighth-graders leaving WCMS next year and a small group of sixth-graders coming in creates a situation where teaching positions must be cut next school year. In an effort to not completely lose the agriculture program at WCMS, Bruno had suggested that a WCHS agriculture teacher could teach a class at the middle school next year. In response, WCHS agriculture teacher Tracy Probst pointed out that a school cannot have an active FFA chapter for its students without a certified teacher. Also, a student must take an agriculture class in order to become an FFA member. Probst said more students have wanted to take an agriculture class at WCHS than what's been available to them in recent years. "We've had to turn students away," she added. The WCMS site-based council will meet again on Monday, March 20, at 5:15 p.m. to resume discussions before taking action to approve a master schedule for next school year. First and second readings would be necessary before the council can approve a revised master schedule.

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