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Schools share ag programs

June 20, 2012
Kylie Saari , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - With the addition of the Ag Academy programming at Fairmont Area High School, all but one public school in Martin County will have an FFA program.

But students at Granada-Huntley-East Chain needn't worry if they want to join, because two local schools are offering to share their programming.

In May, Truman Public Schools entered into a "gentlemen's agreement" with GHEC, inviting students to attend either the last two or first two periods of the day to take agriculture classes.

By-laws of the FFA program state students cannot become members until they are enrolled in at least one agriculture class.

In June, Fairmont Area also offered its ag curriculum to Mustang students, as well as homeschool and Martin Luther High School students.

Fairmont Area's superintendent Joe Brown offered GHEC students the class on a tuition basis of $300 for one semester class or $500 for two semester classes. Homeschool and parochial students would not be charged for their attendance.

The fee schedule is based on government reimbursement of students to public schools. Because students who come to Fairmont from GHEC would be enrolled at a full-time rate at GHEC, Fairmont is charging the schools for the time they spend in Fairmont.

Homeschool and parochial students do not receive government funding, so Fairmont would be allowed to charge the government for the fraction of the day they would attend the school.

Truman superintendent Tom Ames said his district has not detailed a financial agreement with GHEC.

Neither superintendent seemed aware of the other school's offer.

Truman principal Tate Jerome said 10 Mustangs have agreed to take part in Truman's ag program in the fall.

The classes offered to GHEC students at Truman are considered part of the ag program but are focused on industrial technology skills, such as welding.

Fairmont is offering its Exploring Agriculture, Landscaping, and Small Animals courses during the first and last parts of the day.

Brown said students would be responsible for getting to and from Fairmont.

"If people want to start or end their day at Fairmont, they can," he said.

Students can take more than just ag classes from Fairmont, according to Brown. Band, choir and orchestra are currently taken by some homeschoolers and private school students, and all public school classes are available to those students.

Paul Sundholm, superintendent at GHEC, has not seen Fairmont's offer. He is retiring at the end of the month, with a new superintendent beginning July 1.

Robert Patrick, principal at Martin Luther High School, was unavailable for comment, as was school board president for GHEC, Robert Garry.



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