Sussex Tech officials defend decision to drop lodging program

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Sussex Tech High School officials are defending a decision to drop a lodging pathway program, citing a lack of enrollment and claims of poor future employment prospects.

The decision angeredparents who questioned the technical high school’s lack of advance notice and not listing the situation on a recent meeting agenda. The group reportedly held a meeting to discuss legal action.

According to a statement from the vo-tech district, “Four years ago, Sussex Tech began offering a hospitality pathway for its students, with the goal of preparing them for careers in the lodging industry. Our pathways must maintain a minimum level of student enrollment and have a demonstrated career path in the local labor market for students upon graduation, and we review each subject every year to ensure that it is meeting those objectives. Unfortunately, despite all efforts being made and substantial resources being expended, the hospitality program did not reach a level where it could be sustained from either an enrollment, labor market, or financial perspective.”

The statement went on to claim there is not enough demand for lodging management positions to justify the program, which provides training in that area.

Also cited was the cost of the lodging program when compared to other areas, such as carpentry and construction management.

Plans called for phasing out the program, with current students allowed to continue.

“Circumstances changed abruptly on the morning of Monday, August 12, exactly two weeks before the start of the school year. With no advance notice, the hospitality program teacher submitted her resignation and notified our administration that she had accepted a position with another school district,” the vo-tech district stated.

After not finding a replacement teacher, the decision was made to immediately close the program and worked with students on alternatives.

The district disputes claims that the district violated the Freedom of Information Act are “incorrect and contain misinformation.”

District spokesman Dan Shortledge said the item was added to the May 13 meeting agenda at the start of the meeting, a move allowed by FOIA rules.

Parents have filed a complaint regarding Freedom of Information violations.

Sussex Tech also said the program was not related to culinary arts, a popular area for students.

College programs touch on a number of areas including the overall operation of a property whichcan have lodging, banquet, resort and restaurant facilities.

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