High school autoshop program to remain, in part, at UAS

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2008

Officials with the Juneau School District and the University of Alaska Southeast said Thursday they had reached a compromise that will allow the district to teach part of the high school automotive technology curriculum on university property.

"We are thrilled that we were able to reach an agreement," Juneau Superintendent Peggy Cowan said Thursday in a statement. "We appreciate the willingness of UAS Chancellor John Pugh and his team to work with us to reach a win-win solution."

UAS officials had said they would no longer allow the high school to teach autoshop at the university's Technical Education Center, which sits across Egan Drive from Juneau-Douglas High School, because they needed the space at the facility to expand a mining program.

Some JDHS teachers opposed that decision and suggested that the district end a student-teaching agreement with the university.

Officials from both sides met Thursday to work out a new agreement.

Steve Allwine of Mendenhall Auto Center said he sat in on the meeting and was impressed that both sides were so eager to come up with a proposed solution.

Under the new agreement, the high school can use the shop part of the TEC building but not its classroom space. The small engine courses and the classroom component of an introductory automotive technology course will be moved to JDHS.

JDHS Principal Bernie Sorenson said in a statement that moving the classroom work back to the high school will open up the program for more students.

"For the past several years JDHS has not been able to accommodate all of the students interested in taking basic automotive," Sorenson said.

But the autoshop teacher, Stephen Squires, said it would make teaching a hands-on subject more difficult.

"If I want to show the kids something, I'm going to have to say, 'Wait a minute, hold that thought,'" Squires said.

Also under the agreement, the advanced automotive course will no longer be taught by Squires. Instead, a dual-credit program taught by university personnel will be available to high school students after school.

Squires said losing the advanced students would likely hurt his award-winning program.

He added that he appreciated the work the district's administration had done on his program's behalf but didn't think the final outcome was ideal.

"It's hard for me to take, to be dictated what I can teach," Squires said. "It was all a battle of politics, and I think I lost."

• Contact reporterAlan Suderman at 523-2268 or alan.suderman@juneauempire.com.

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