School officials say automotive technology classes through the Six District Educational Compact will continue, but where and how the training will take place remains unresolved as the Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson city school districts are both in the process of building new school facilities.

There are two separate programs dealing with automotive education offered through the Compact, which is a collaboration among the Cuyahoga Falls, Woodridge, Tallmadge, Kent, Hudson and Stow-Munroe Falls school districts for technical education programs.

The Compact’s Auto Specialization program teaches students the use of tools and equipment to perform detailing, reconditioning, maintenance and simple repairs on vehicles. Skills are practiced daily in a simulated automotive repair setting at the Hudson district’s facility.

The auto technologies program is for students wishing to gain practical experience in basic diagnostic and troubleshooting skills while becoming proficient in repair and maintenance of a car’s mechanical and electrical systems. Potential job opportunities for students taking these courses include becoming technicians at car dealerships, service centers and automotive specialty shops.

Completing this program provides an opportunity for students to earn an ASE Entry Level Certification. College credits also are available. Classes are presently conducted at both the Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls districts.

While Hudson City Schools are in the middle of a major construction and renovation plan that includes a new auto tech building, Cuyahoga Falls City Schools are working on plans to construct a new sixth- through 12th-grade building, but may not replace its auto tech facility, now located at the high school.

Cuyahoga Falls Superintendent Todd Nichols said that there are currently no plans to construct a new auto tech facility at the new building because the district could not get funding for it through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission "due to enrollment."

Mary-Jane Stanchina, the executive director for the Six District Educational Compact, said that in the past school year, there were 12 students at Cuyahoga Falls and 11 at Hudson participating in the Six District auto programs. Next year, the classes will be at full capacity, with 14 students at Cuyahoga Falls and 12 at Hudson.

While plans are pending for the new building, "the current CFHS Auto-tech Center will be here as long as the [high school] building is standing," Nichols said.

The Hudson City Schools were initially planning to tear down the auto tech and maintenance building at the current middle school and relocate both to the high school, with estimated completion of the $2.8 million project by August 2021. 

Stanchina said that the two districts have been going over possible ways to reorganize the program.

Doreen Osmun, assistant superintendent with the Hudson City Schools, also said that the districts have "had pretty extensive discussions" on provisions for continuing the program should new facilities not be available by the 2021-22 school year.

"There is a mutual responsibility to find and partner together to find best way to deliver on the experience," Osmun said. "Mary-Jane shared that some programs offered are at Summa. The new entrepreneurship program at Woodridge is at the [Riverfront] Pavilion. It’s not unusual for students to be off site. Meredith [Zaffrann, director of Hudson Community Education and Recreation] suggested we start with Hudson Chamber of Commerce."

Phil Herman, superintendent of the Hudson City Schools, said even if there wasn’t a new facility at Hudson by the 2021-22 school year, alternatives would be found.

"As a host site, we need to make sure to be a leader to make sure programming takes place," Herman said.

Voters in the Hudson City School district passed an $81.5 million, 4.97-mill bond issue to fund a new $46 million, 181,000-square-foot middle school, plus improvements in the other existing buildings. The bond issue also paid for improvements at the Ada Cooper Miller Natatorium, which were finished in January, and a new media center for the high school, which was dedicated in August 2018.

Cuyahoga Falls City Schools’ plans are still pending.

Nichols said the district will receive the $33.2 million in state money at some point, noting it is simply a question of "when" the money will be released, not "if" it will be released. If the district does not receive the state money in July, Nichols said the next opportunity for the release of funds would be in January 2021.

For details on these programs and other technical education offerings, visit http://sixdistrict.com/.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC