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Career Cluster Courses at Holmes Won't Be Cut, Principal Says

A public forum was held at Holmes High School on Tuesday where parents, students, and other involved individuals expressed concerns to the Site Based Decision Making Council, which is made up of school principal Scott Hornblower and other school staff and parents as well as Covington Independent Public Schools Superintendent Alvin Garrison.

Many of those who addressed the board were concerned with rumors regarding cuts made to so-called "career cluster" courses, specifically carpentry and auto body, and the possibility of not bringing back some teachers. Hornblower said that there are no changes to career cluster programs and that no CET programs are to be eliminated.

“I'm not sure where the rumors started, but we're not changing any of the programs and any career cluster programs. We had gotten a request from the catalog to make sure we were in line with course numbers and to the best of my knowledge, unless there is something I don't know, that is done," Hornblower said. "I know we had a late revision where we added chorus today, but in terms of the CET programs, none of those are scheduled to be eliminated.

“As far as teachers, that's an entirely different process, and that process should in no way impact our ability to provide programs.”

In fact, Hornblower announced that Holmes had expanded in an agreement with Gateway Community & Technical College to offer advanced manufacturing through the school's welding programs. He said that businesses in the welding industry had contacted the school about the lack of qualified employees on a local scale. It is a joint-program that allows students to take Gateway courses at Holmes to gain a tack welding certificate.

“We've had conversations with businesses who are more than willing to come in and talk to these young people about going to work for them,” he said.

The school will spend around $30,000 on an assessment to gauge the readiness of any transition Holmes might make to an early-college model school. The assessment will be conducted by EDWorks, which is a sister organization of the Covington-based group StrivePartnership and are both subsidiaries of KnowledgeWorks.

Hornblower said that there will be two opportunities for parents to voice their opinions of the school to EDWorks during the assessment.

“We wanted to talk to them about what it would look like to engage them in conversation about our readiness and actually doing an assessment for us to become an early-college high school. In that conversation, it could take multiple iterations of what that might look like, but in our case, we wanted to assess readiness for our ability to do such a thing,” Hornblower said.

He said that there seemed to be a lot of conversation and buzz about the assessment and that he and Garrison addressed the entire Holmes staff about the issue.

“Superintendent Garrison and myself have had conversations with our entire staff regarding if we go through the EDWorks process to identify strengths and challenges and opportunities, and if we choose as a group, as a staff and as an administration, to take the information of EDWorks and make it another way, that would be great, but there is no intention on our part to force anyone to go the early-college model," Hornblower said. "That has been communicated very directly to the teachers.”

Garrison said that if moving in the direction of EDWorks and the early-college model causes an uproar among teachers and parents at Holmes, the school would not continue in that direction.

Others who addressed the board were disappointed in the lack of a Homecoming Dance, a Senior Dinner-Dance or a school play for the outgoing seniors this year, but Hornblower said that it came down to a lack of participation either from the students or a school sponsor to organize the various canceled events. He said that the day before the Homecoming Dance, only six students had signed up.

Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor

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