BOCES to reconfigure PTECH

JOHNSTOWN — HFM BOCES this week announced plans to reconfigure its Pathways in Technology Early College High School programs beginning next school year by consolidating instructional locations for individual programs that are currently offered at three separate campuses throughout the region.

PTECH programs utilize project based learning and professional skill training while providing students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma and an associate degree simultaneously at no cost to their families and to be considered for jobs with partner businesses when they graduate. Students are expected to complete programs in four to six years.

Current programs include HFM PTECH located at Jansen Avenue Elementary School in Johnstown with degree pathways in business management, advanced manufacturing, information technology and health sciences.

Foothills PTECH located at Johnstown High School features the Academy of Computer Science and Game Arts and the Academy of Health and Medical Science with degree pathways in computer science, business and marketing, healthcare technician and healthcare information records management. Degrees for students at HFM PTECH and Foothills PTECH are conferred by Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

Agriculture PTECH located at David H. Robbins Elementary School in St. Johnsville features degree pathways related to agriculture business and science, animal industry, biological technology, culinary arts, environmental studies, fisheries and wildlife technologies and sustainable crop production. Degrees are conferred through the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill.

Beginning in July HFM BOCES plans to re-organize the PTECH programs into three “Pathway Clusters,” business and advanced manufacturing; agriculture; and medical/health sciences and computer science. In fall 2020 program offerings to students entering their freshman and sophomore years in all three pathways will be provided at Jansen Avenue Elementary School.

“In order to leverage efficiencies and opportunities for cooperation among the schools, the three programs will be co-located by grade-level. This reconfiguration will enhance and increase opportunities for students and ensures that all of the degree pathways currently offered to students remain viable,” a press release announcing the changes stated.

Beginning in their junior year, students in all three pathways will transition to HFM BOCES’ main campus located on Route 67 in Johnstown and neighboring FMCC. The two campuses are directly connected.

Students enrolled in the business and advanced manufacturing and medical/health science and computer science pathways will attend FMCC in their senior year and continue for up to two additional years until completing the requirements for an associate degree. Students enrolled in the agriculture pathways will begin attending SUNY Cobleskill as seniors and will continue for up to two years until earning their degrees.

HFM BOCES District Superintendent David Ziskin on Thursday said that the changes will have no impact on the number of PTECH program seats available to students from component school districts. He also said that all of the current degree and certificate pathways available through the PTECH programs will continue to be offered.

“The co-locating of programs allows for scheduling flexibility. Students will take specific pathway courses and will also take courses that may include students from a different pathway,” Ziskin explained.

Ziskin compared the grouping together of PTECH students from separate pathways in their initial years to college students from separate majors who may take the same general education courses early in their enrollment before focusing solely on classes in their degree field.

“As with the present configuration of our PTECHs, students will continue to be immersed in project based learning during their freshman and sophomore years and will engage in career exploration throughout their program,” Ziskin said.

Administrators at HFM BOCES worked in collaboration with the superintendents of component school districts to develop the planned changes aimed at strengthening program offerings to students and improving efficiencies to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the PTECH model.

When asked if staffing levels will be impacted by the changes, Ziskin said that HFM BOCES determines staffing for all programs based on student enrollment, noting that student numbers should be sustained at their current levels.

He added that the changes should result in a small reduction in the cost to component districts to send their students to attend PTECH programs, potentially increasing the size of the programs in the future.

“We anticipate growth in response to our collaborative planning with our component partners,” Ziskin said. “The motivation for implementing this structure is simple; provide the strongest possible path to high school and college completion to our students.”