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OPS board approves freshman academy program for fall

Posted at 6:56 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 22:31:30-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Public School Board of Education voted on Tuesday to approve a program that would have freshman placed in groups to better adjust to high school, while waiting to vote on a program that would have them begin exploring career options.

Starting this fall, the proposed Freshman Academy would have students placed in smaller groups that will act as an orientation and small social group to help them prepare for their high school career.

The vote on the proposed Career Pathways was postponed until September after many in the community spoke out against it.

The pathways would have student begin taking classes related to a career path or field that interests them

“We have an obligation to equip our students to be ready to go into the world," said Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan.

While the district says it believes this will give students the opportunity to think about their careers early, many in the community are concerned.

Most against the plan had similar concerns, saying they had little input in the program plans.

"We are the employers, we are the recruiters of this city,” one speaker said Tuesday. “We know what we need in this city and we want to be at the table from the beginning, right from the start."

Community members say kids should not be forced to have the pressure of picking a career at age 14 or 15, and that now is not the time to be implementing new programs after the tough year on educators.

Marque Snow wanted to amend the motion to require the district to come back on September 9 with metrics to gauge progress in the Freshman Academy, but could not get other board members to agree to it. Dr. Logan said the main metric of success would be seeing students successfully move on to 10th grade.

Snow, Nancy Kratky and Spencer Head voted against the Freshman Academy, with all others voting to approve.

Dr. Logan said after hearing feedback, the district would be working more with the community on the program over the next four months before the program is implemented.
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