Three-District Open Campus Initiative In Line For Legislative Green Light
HARRISBURG – The open campus initiative being developed by three Lancaster County school districts could receive an important endorsement from the state legislature.
State Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-13), an enthusiastic supporter of the concept crafted by Penn Manor, Hempfield, and Manheim Township School Districts, has drafted legislation allowing the initiative to proceed as an education demonstration project. The open campus would allow the three districts to share resources to reduce costs and provide additional educational opportunities and flexibility for students.
"We have challenged school districts to become more competitive, and these three districts have responded in impressive fashion. This is exactly the sort of student-friendly innovation we have been hoping for from our professional educators. It offers students and families additional choices to meet their academic needs, it involves the inter-district sharing of resources and cost efficiency steps taxpayers have been seeking, and it incorporates technology on par with classroom instruction. The uncommon cooperative effort among the players in education demonstrated here is very encouraging," Smucker said.
The open campus project will utilize existing teachers and course materials. The initiative could help reduce class sizes and provide more individual instruction for students while reducing the need for costly new construction projects for overcrowded schools.
Smucker noted there has been extensive planning and consultation in recent months, and he does not want to see the plan derailed by bureaucratic hesitancy or a delaying lawsuit.
"I am convinced this effort will succeed and encourage others to try similar approaches. There are a lot of practical and logistical considerations to be ironed out in a relatively short amount of time, and that really needs to be the concentration. Too many times departures from tradition in education are greeted with skepticism, which is why so much change happens under adversarial circumstances. Providing the demonstration projects avenue ensures the open campus receives a fair test," Smucker said.