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Four years of college? It's not the plan for many at Whitnall

Officials speculate on 61 percent figure

July 26, 2011

Greenfield - Now that Whitnall has a better handle on where its graduates go after high school, the results show that only 61 percent of graduates will go to a four-year college.

That was shocking to more than one Whitnall School Board member.

"Sixty-one percent is not a huge number," said board President William Osterndorf.

Officials think huge numbers are going off to college, he said, but this data makes him wonder, "Who are we?"

And it has implications beyond that.

"The question is, are we devoting sufficient resources to programs where students are not going to four-year colleges," Osterndorf said.

Perhaps technical education needs to be emphasized more, he said.

But the 61 percent may be somewhat misleading, administrators said.

Without more data, school officials can only speculate, but they suspect that some students are working a while before enrolling in college, said Superintendent of Schools Lowell Holtz.

Also, there is a trend across the country of students starting at two-year colleges and transferring to four-year colleges to get their degrees, said Whitnall High School Principal Anthony Brazouski, with the intent of saving money by living at home a little longer.

"But how do we track that?" he asked.

This data should be part of a larger discussion in terms of demographics in the School District, Osterndorf said.

Along the lines of preparing students for work, board member Bernard Shaw suggested forging partnerships with businesses so that students come out ready for the work that is out there. That is not necessarily happening now, he said.

For example, an official in the Oak Creek-Franklin School District told him that a Bucyrus official was disappointed that high schools are not preparing students for the kind of engineering Bucyrus uses. The Oak Creek schools then formed an internship program with Bucyrus to try to remedy that, for the benefit of both students and the company, Shaw said, and Whitnall might do the same thing.

"It would be nice to forge a partnership with some kind of industry," he said. "We have an obligation to prepare students."

Holtz plans to prepare a list of potential partnerships.

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