Shenandoah County Public Schools are considering an option to fill the seats in under-enrolled Triplett Tech classes.

At Thursday’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Mark Johnston introduced a policy change that, if approved, would open up access to Triplett Tech’s under-enrolled courses.

He said that full-time public school students would have the first choice at courses but if the course does not fill up, then any remaining seats would be opened to home-schooled or private school students.

“If after our full-time students have had opportunities to enroll in our CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs at Triplett Tech, I have no problem providing access to any unfilled seats to students in our community who have chosen a home school or private school option. These programs are extremely valuable for our students in terms of gaining valuable work and career experience,” Johnston said earlier.

Courses have a maximum enrollment of 20 students because of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

Johnston said there has been discussion in the community regarding opening up classes. He has had conversations with county residents and board members have heard from their constituents, he said.

Board Chair Karen Whetzel agreed that she always wants to hear from the residents she represents, and this was no exception. The policy change also makes sense to Whetzel.

“This might be a way to fill up the classes and take advantage of the teachers we are already paying for,” she said.

There is partial state funding for each student enrolled, Johnston said. There would be no fee to enroll in the classes. Some courses require all students to purchase necessary supplies.

Board members will take the matter up again at their July 11 meeting.

Board members did approve on Thursday the implementation of the REstoring Success Through Assistance and Responsive Teaching (RESTART) program.

The program is designed to give students with a history of disciplinary problems, extreme violations of policy regarding disruptive behavior, drug or alcohol violations the opportunity to acquire credits for graduation and receive assistance as they advance through online courses or GED material. It can also be used as a path to return back into their home school.

The school division and School Board members also announced Volunteers of the Year: the New Market Rotary, Mount Jackson-Edinburg Rotary, Strasburg Rotary and Woodstock Rotary.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the Rotary Clubs presented $17,000 in scholarships to students and donated $12,000 toward the construction of the Career and Technical Education Pavilion at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds, among other things.

Don Levine was named the Secondary Volunteer of the Year. Levine has been instrumental in starting a community mentorship at Strasburg High School. The pilot program was approved in February 2019.

The school is expanding the mentorship program with other organizations, such as the Strasburg Rotary, to match the strengths and skills of individuals with students.

The division and School Board also recognized the valedictorians and salutatorians for the Class of 2019 for each school: Stonewall Jackson High School graduates Lindsay Michelle Zirkle as valedictorian and James Franklin Eaton as salutatorian; Central High School graduates Madison Brooke Nichols as valedictorian and Chandler Estep as salutatorian; Strasburg High School graduates Amanda Emily Grover as valedictorian and Sianna Cervantes as salutatorian.

Steven Rockwell, of Strasburg, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting

He said his daughter started sixth-grade last year and they toured her school.

Rockwell said the woman who gave the tour told him that students can’t fail, even if they get Fs, and that the only way a student can get held back is if the parents agree to hold them back.

He also said that students are allowed to use cellphones at times in the schools, which he felt was a distraction.

After the meeting, Johnston said the parent’s comment was not correct and that is it possible to fail in the county schools.

He did say that typically decisions regarding academic problems and solutions are joint decisions between the school and parents.

– Contact Melissa Topey at mtopey@nvdaily.com