By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays school board and guests toured the Career and Technical Education wing of Hays High School on Monday night, learned about some of the needs of the programs and discussed hopes for a renovation of the program’s space.
As Hays High sees an increase in enrollment, the demand for CTE classes is also increasing. However, the school is limited in adding more course offerings by both staff and space.
For the fall semester of 2019-20, HHS has 888 students (seat-time) in its CTE programs.
Martin Straub, HHS principal, said he would like to double the size of its health care pathway. A room that used to be occupied by a preschool program is now being used used by a NCK Tech teacher to offer allied health classes.
The preschool program was moved to the former Oak Park Medical Complex with the Early Childhood Connections program.
Straub said he would like to be able to have a health pathways instructor on staff, but the shared instruction is working for now. HaysMed recently donated hospital beds for that program.
Although it is not related to CTE, there is a transitional living room in the CTE wing. The room is set up like an apartment. Students in functional special education learn life skills in that program, such as cooking meals, cleaning, budgeting and shopping.
The addition of this room means students don’t have to go off campus to learn these skills. The class averages about 20 students.
The metal shop recently added a new lathe and computer numerical control (CNC) machine. However, metals teacher Alex Ford said the program lacks the space and the equipment to teach all of the skills he said he thinks students need to be prepared for the work world.
Chris Dinkel, CTE instructor, said the department would like to knock down one of the walls and expand the shop into the adjacent room. The program would also like to put in an overhead door on the back of the shop so students could bring in larger projects like trailers, which now have to be worked on outside.
“His student-to-equipment ratio — you have 20 students in here and you have two lathes,” Dinkel said. “That’s a problem. You count the number of machine shops we have within a five-, six-county area, it’s well over a dozen. There is an employment issue too.”
Ford said, “I have one mill. It’s a great machine, but I have 20 students. I can’t teach anything on it. I can’t have 20 students on one machine. I actually need two or three of them. I need four lathes if I want to really teach my students. I have all the welders I can ask for, but I don’t have the machining capability.”
He continued, “CNC is the biggest push right now. I have one CNC machine. I would like to have two or three more. I would like to have classes just on that.”
Lathes cost $5,000 to $10,000. A mill can cost $15,000 to $20,000.
Dinkel said High Plains Machine Works has a large mill it would like to donate to the program, but the high school has no place to put it.
HHS has an award-winning radio and broadcast program. However, Dan Balman, broadcast instructor, said the classroom space doesn’t fit the program. Balman also teaches American government. When his broadcast students need to shoot video, they have to move all of the desks out and set up the green screen and all of the audio and video equipment.
He would like to see a room that is adjacent to the program’s radio studio reconfigured into a broadcast studio. The room is currently being used for storage. The school board has already approved construction of a metal storage building for HHS, but that building has yet to be constructed.
What is now being used by Heath Meder for the graphics arts program could be converted into an editing classroom for the broadcast program. The CTE program would like to add a door between the two rooms that would be used for the broadcast program. Graphic arts could be moved to what is now being used by Allied Health.
Art teacher Heath Meder offers a jewelry making course. The space is shared with the ceramics program. Meder said the space is so tight it is unsafe for students.
The CTE program would like to knock out a wall to expand the jewelry program’s space into an adjoining classroom. They also are proposing adding a dividing wall between ceramics and jewelry.
Jewelry is a popular class. It has about 60 requests per enrollment period, but only 20 spots are available.
The student learn lost-wax casting. Students who may not take any other shop classes learn to use drill presses and buffers.
“It is a [class] we are talking about math, science, metallurgy. They are using things that I don’t think they will if they don’t have an opportunity in a class like this,” Meder said.
Meder found an aluminum foundry that has been at the school since it was built. Meder said he would like to use foundry in his art classes. A new shed was added outside of the ceramics studio for a new gas-fired kiln, and that area could be used for the foundry.
Jennifer Younger, art teacher, said other art classes, including art exploration, drawing and painting also are usually full, and the department has had to turn away students. The program does not have a dedicated room for painting, so the students can’t leave their art pieces out.
Younger said the art department would like to have a dedicated art exploration teacher, so she and Meder could concentrate on their specialities. Straub said HHS at one time had three full-time art teachers, but that position was cut.
“Right now, we are stretched pretty thin,” Younger said. “We are trying to teach everything. Students want to be in here. It kills us to have to turn away, but we are full, and there’s only two of us.”
A surface plainer and a table saw were recently replaced in the wood shop. However, Dinkel said the school needs a CNC machine for woods to prepare students for what they will experience in the work world.
“What does CNC do for us in here?” Dinkel said. “That is what many shops are doing. You go to Westlake in Salina or you go to Kansas City to these big cabinet manufacturers, once that piece of material runs through the process, especially when it comes to the finishing, a hand does not touch it. It is all on conveyor— sanding, the finishing, the staining process, the drying process.”
In order to make a place for a CNC, machine, the shop will need to be reconfigured. The CNC machine would need to be placed where the student projects are now being stored towards the center of the shop. Those projects would need to be moved to a storage room, but that space would need to be adjusted to allow enough room for both storage and a set of stairs that go to an upper wood storage space. That set of stairs right now butts up against a wall.
This would require a wall being removed and a support beam being added. The stairs could be extended out into the shop area.
Dinkel also teaches drafting. He said the monitors that the students are using are old and small for the large house plans they create.
The glass for the greenhouse that is used by the ag program was recently replaced. The greenhouse was damaged in a hail storm and insurance covered the cost.
Curt Vajnar, ag teacher, said he now has his drone license and is teaching students drone applications in the ag industry.
He also has students involved in ag research. One student is studying water needs of various grasses with the help of Holly Dickman, City of Hays water conservation specialist. Another student is preparing for a hydroponic experiment and yet another student will be working on a hatching experiment.
The group did not tour the business and marketing or the culinary arts programs.
High school officials hope the renovations to the CTE wing could be done in phases with the total cost of about $150,000.
When the renovations to the CTE wing would be complete is uncertain at this time. The work is contingent on approval of the school board.
HHS Assistant Principal John Linn said work could begin on the renovations as soon as they are approved by the school board.