Group turns out to plead autoshop's case

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2008

About 20 students, parents and teachers showed up at the Juneau School Board's Tuesday meeting to show support for the school district's automotive technology classes.

Next school year, a popular vocational program called autoshop may lose its home, which is in the University of Southeast Alaska's Technical Education Center.

UAS has said it needs the space, which sits across Egan Drive from Juneau-Douglas High School, to expand its mining program. UAS officials said they made it clear to the school district previously that they want to offer university-level courses to high school students who want to pursue a career in automotive technology.

But advocates of the high school autoshop program said it's a great way to keep kids interested in school, regardless of whether they've chosen to work on cars for a living. They said the university is breaking a long-held agreement to share the space, and told the School Board to "get down and dirty" to save the program.

"It's your job as our leaders to find a solution," JDHS social studies teacher Sara Hannan said. "It's not going to be pretty; it's not going to be nice."

School Board member Joanne Bell-Graves said it was "embarrassing" that the district faced the prospect of losing the autoshop program. And Mark Choate, another School Board member, said the School Board was planning to meet with UAS officials to ask them to reconsider.

"If persuasion doesn't work, then we'll ramp it up," Choate said.

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