Center of Innovation Q & A

  • As I noted in earlier correspondence to the Fayette County BOE, I certainly want to answer questions that come up regarding the development of the Center of Innovations prototype we are working to put into place. I generally have removed names of individuals who have posed questions in order to focus on the information requested. We’ve received a variety of questions and we will hopefully share information that will be helpful. I suspect more questions will come up as we move forward, so please do share those with me and we'll work to provide clarity. (Please find my responses in blue below.)


    We discussed the possibility of posting the Q&A on our system web page at our May 18, board meeting:


    As I noted in earlier correspondence to the Fayette County BOE, I certainly want to answer questions that come up regarding the development of the Center of Innovations prototype we are working to put into place. I generally have removed names of individuals who have posed questions in order to focus on the information requested. We’ve received a variety of questions and we will hopefully share information that will be helpful. I suspect more questions will come up as we move forward, so please do share those with me and we'll work to provide clarity. (Please find my responses in blue below.)


    We discussed the possibility of posting the Q&A on our system web page at our May 18, board meeting:


    1. There is no 2nd or 3rd level of culinary arts next year as this is a new pathway?


    Culinary Arts is an expansion of a pathway based on student interest as noted in the county wide student spring registration numbers. With minor facility modifications, we can offer the first level culinary arts (professional foods) course at a student’s home high school. Many of the first level courses can work in multiple pathways, but Culinary Arts is a singleton. Depending on a student’s level of interest and the openings in their individual course schedule, it could be possible to have the upper level courses taught during the year.


    2. What is the cost to "open" this building and who pays this cost?


    We do not currently occupy the facility, but we are currently paying electricity, water, insurance, etc. costs already on the building. Our plan is that SCTC would pay for the M&O building expenses. So in reality, we could actually be saving the BOE money. We are in the process of drafting the MOU, but as with any new venture the devil is in the details. We met on Tuesday (5-12) afternoon and the VP for Facility Services from SCTC, one of their team members, who was in attendance. He is responsible for all SCTC facility needs; i.e., custodial, security (they have their own police department for the college), maintenance, etc. We openly discussed the issue of M&O costs being covered by SCTC and there are no reservations where this is concerned.


    3. Are there going to be any administrative costs? Can you have students in a building without administrators being on site?


    We do not anticipate additional administrative costs; i.e., we will not be hiring a principal for the building. There is no requirement in this regard. We do plan to have staff present (both FCBOE and SCTC) and we are discussing who that would be. Those details can be provided as they become finalized. As an example, I was a high school principal at a school that had 10 buildings on two city blocks. We did not have a building principal, not even assistant principals, in each of those buildings.


    4. Who will be teaching the classes at the FIS, existing teachers on staff? How many more teachers will have to be hired at the schools to teach the introductory classes and 2nd level classes? How do these allotments fit in the budget?


    For the most part, we already have the first year courses already in place. We have a tentative master schedule that has been built with the high school registrars, CTAE, and the district curriculum staff. Much like a regular high school master schedule we will be plugging in the names of the teachers as the master schedule is fleshed out. We have four positions built into our FY16 allotments and those will be used very strategically to meet the needs of the individual school, program, and system schedules. Right now I would suspect one, possibly two, slots will be dedicated to the Healthcare Science pathway. The plan is to also take certified SCTC staff and have them teach for us as well. These teachers would serve a duel capacity. Our students could be earning high school (pathway) credits and college credit at the same time. Depending on the students’ performance in the courses, they could count for dual enrollment credit leading to high school and possibly college credit, certifications, and degrees (through dual enrollment). The SCTC staff is paid by SCTC, not the FCBOE. One of the possible benefits for FCBOE teachers is that our teachers could qualify as “adjunct staff” and be paid by the college.


    5. Who is going to pay the cost for the equipment to set up the classrooms for the 3rd level healthcare pathways?


    Much of the equipment is already in the system at the various school sites. Our CTAE folks are already pulling the equipment lists from the SDOE for the Healthcare Science and Culinary Arts programs. We will use these lists to pull equipment into the FIS site. We have already contacted businesses and they have committed to help where this is concerned (e.g., Piedmont Fayette has agreed to provide equipment/supplies for the Healthcare Science program). SCTC is also going to help support the need for equipment as well. There may be some specific needs, but this will not be like starting a program from scratch. As we are able to determine what equipment we have, we can then come back with specific requests and cost amounts.


    6. It looks to me that all of the students from all of the high schools are expected to take their 3rd level healthcare classes at the FIS? What will be the transportation required to get them there? Cost and logistics?


    Our current clinicals are already being held off the home campus, so I don't see this as a huge difference. Students currently enrolled in dual enrollment courses and attending clinicals are currently providing their own transportation. Of course, as the dust settles with the actual enrollment numbers, we will look to determine who will be attending the FIS site and that will help determine what, if any transportation costs will be needed. I believe we will be able to provide accurate numbers and determine actual costs at that time. Of course, I don't see any costs incurred from FCHS. (As we have talked more, we learned that students at FCHS were involved daily in walking over to FIS as they participated in mentoring programs when the school was operating.) However, with full disclosure, this would be the area where I see some potential costs.


    7. Janitorial staffing?


    Again, M&O costs will belong to SCTC. We have not talked specifically about custodial services, but they will be included in the MOU.


    8. If this is a pilot, is FIS the best place to house it?


    We have other vacant buildings and/or space, but I absolutely do see this as the best site for the prototype to be developed. The proximity to FCHS (an instant source of under-served students), the fact they do not currently have the Healthcare Science pathway, the fact that we have a full commercial kitchen already available for the Culinary Arts/Professional Foods program, the fact that we are not having to invest in tremendous start up or operational costs, etc. leads me to believe that the only way it could be better would be to have the program at the actual business/industry site. I still believe that can happen in the future.


    9. What commitment are we making to Southern Crescent going forward? Are they willing to ramp up with the possibility of only a semester or two?


    Dr. Peters and SCTC staff members are entering this arrangement with eyes wide open. He has the support of the TCSG (Technical College System of Georgia) and they are very positive about the partnership. They see the value of the opportunity and understand the agreement will be evaluated on a year to year basis. As I noted in an email earlier today, I very much want to be able to answer questions as they come up. I do plan to provide periodic updates, very frequently during the early stages, and then at least on a monthly/quarterly basis as we have our "sea legs." The support of the FCBOE is critical to this innovation and something our students, parents, business and industry leaders have been requesting.



    Additional Questions and Answers for the Center of Innovation:

    I appreciate Board members asking follow up questions and I have combined both groups of your questions in this one response. My responses are in blue:


    1. What impact will adding new CTAE courses have on the existing CTAE courses?

    2. What impact will the new structure have on academic courses?


    I think both question one and two are somewhat similar in nature, so I will respond to both in that I think the "impact" will be very positive. In filling out the course sequence and providing additional segments for the career pathways, we will be giving more students the capacity to fully explore and become pathway completers by the time they complete high school. Students will be able to move to the next post-secondary option with marketable skills and credentials. As far as what impact the new structure will have on "academic courses" I really see the academic work becoming more enhanced and more relevant. For example, consider the Engineering pathway (not one of the prototype courses because we can offer this program at all five of our high schools schools). The Project Lead The Way curriculum (Engineering Pathway) has just been announced it will possibly count towards College Board AP credit. If you look at the Digital Media/Animation pathway, there is a strong physics and English connection. The list will only expand. At some point, I would very much like our Fine Arts program to be expanded as well. Data tell us that our fine arts students are generally very strong academic students.


    3. Would you provide all board members with the materials and handouts from our half day workshop on the centers of innovation?


    I believe Ms. Collins has provided the note book and information to all board members, but please let me know if you have note received that information.


    4. Where did you get the term "centers of innovation?" What does that mean?


    A great deal of conversation had taken place in the community regarding the potential of a College and Career Academy. I want to clarify the prototype we are developing is not the traditional CCA. Our ultimate goal and the model we think that works much better for the Fayette County community is to have "centers" located at the business/industry sites where our students can participate in clinicals, internships, and/or apprenticeships. But in order for us to be able to do that we need to develop these prototype models (programs) that we can unplug from FIS to those different business locations. Some possible examples I could see being developed include our fine arts programs being located at Pinewood Studios, I can see our engineering programs being placed at Panasonic, NCR, etc., of course the healthcare science pathway at Piedmont Fayette, and again the list can go on.


    5. How many students have actually registered for the new CTAE courses?


    As of the most current master schedule work (5-27-2015) there are 111 third level course Healthcare Science students registered. These are unduplicated students and do not include second or third alternates choices from student registration sheets. Last year there were only 69 students. This number will grow based on the enrollment requests for first and second level course requests. There are 200 students registered for the first level Culinary Arts course that are unduplicated.


    6. When did we vote to limit the number of students in CTAE classes? To be consistent, we have to limit the number in all classes.


    Class size is something the BOE has stressed that we needed to be sensitive about and work to keep them as low as possible. Typically maximum lab class size is 28 students. We are working to hold all of our labs, CTAE, Science, Writing, etc. to that number or lower. The board has not taken a vote on this issue, but that was our understanding. There may be exceptions as enrollment fluctuates. However, we want all of our courses and teaching slots, as much as humanly possible, to be state funded.


    7. When did we vote to add a person to direct the clinicals? How much will that cost? We've already spend $270,000 on new personnel at the county office to support CTAE. How much more are you planning to spend?


    The BOE has not voted to add a person to direct the clinicals that has only been discussed as an operational possibility. If that were to "work" as the master schedule is developed it would have to happen with the existing staff allotments. This is not an additional new allotment. In the reorganization of our district office, we have separated our Guidance and Advisement (counselors) out of the former office of Pupil Personnel Services into a separate category. I have discussed on a number of occasions how extremely important effective guidance and advisement is for all students (not just in CTAE programs) as they matriculate to their post-secondary option of choice.


    8. How many Fayette 2014 graduates are attending Southern Crescent Technical College?


    Based on data provided by SCTC, there are currently 32 students from the class of 2014 that are attending SCTC. In addition to that number, there are 600 individuals attending SCTC that live in Fayette County.


    In talking with Dr. Peters, (SCTC President) he shared the following information:


    One thing you may want to share with your board members is that the average age of our student body is approximately 27 years old. Given that as a baseline data point, it is no real surprise that there are a smaller number of recent high school graduates in our programs. To reiterate the data point though, the intent was these graduates came from one or the other of the several high schools in Fayette County— we did not intend it to mean that they all came from the same school. What appears to be happening is that students either go directly to work or to a 4-year school, and then at some subsequent time having changed their minds, met with less success than they expected, or other various reasons, wind up with us after several years of attempting to make a go of whatever they were involved in. This has been fairly typical of our system everywhere I have been. The average age of TCSG students across the state in general is about the same as ours. New dual enrollment programs are pushing that average age point lower, but across the entire country, among all colleges nation-wide, about 75% of all post-secondary students are classified as non-traditional. This means they are working full time, have families, are in second careers, etc. Only about 25% of all college students nation-wide are recent high school grads who enroll in a college the next school year after they graduate. The NCES data base supports this, even though it does seem to throw what we think we know about college on its ear…of our currently registered student body for the coming summer semester, the total registered is 2755; only 679 are age 21 or less. 1089 are 30 or older. Of the total registered for the coming summer 173 are from Fayette County. All of these numbers are current.