Secretary of Education Lauds Three Lancaster County School Districts for Innovative, Student-Focused Program

Jan 29, 2013, 14:10 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

LANDISVILLE, Pa., Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today applauded Hempfield, Manheim Township and Penn Manor school districts for working together to provide an innovative, online educational program, known as Open Campus PA, for their high school students.

"The administrators and educators in these three districts are to be commended for placing the educational needs of students at the forefront to pave the way for them to succeed and take control of their education," Tomalis said.

"Governor Corbett believes that all Pennsylvania students should be afforded the opportunity to expand their educational options through technology to prepare for postsecondary success."

Tomalis made the remarks today following a student and educator demonstration of online and hybrid learning at Hempfield School District. Joining him today were a number of state lawmakers, including Reps. Ryan Aument, Steven Mentzer, Keith Greiner and Mindy Fee, all Republicans representing Lancaster County.

Launched during the current school year, Open Campus PA permits self-motivated, responsible juniors and seniors in each district to enroll in online courses in English, foreign language, math, science, and social studies. The classes are offered via online instruction or in a hybrid format, which includes both online and in-class instruction, and are proctored by educators in each district.

As part of the enactment of the 2012-13 state budget, Corbett signed into law a measure, sponsored by state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), creating the Open Campus Initiative, allowing schools to enter into cooperative agreements with other school entities. This new provision permits schools to use technology to offer expanded access to high-quality educational programs to students in a cost-effective manner.

"The open campus initiative 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," Smucker said.

Hempfield, Manheim Township and Penn Manor school districts are exploring expansion of Open Campus PA by offering courses for credit during the summer months to enable students to get a head start on required courses or possibly earn additional credits to open early graduation opportunities.  

"We are excited to break down barriers of time and space for our high school students so they can learn how they want and when they want for optimum student achievement," said Hempfield School District Superintendent Dr. Brenda Becker.

"The Open Campus PA partnership allows us to expand our academic opportunities for students while creating efficiencies through the exchange of services among districts," said Manheim Township School District Superintendent Dr. Gene Freeman.

"Lancaster County is fortunate to have a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration in all of its public schools," said Penn Manor School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Leichliter. "We are thankful for the encouragement and cooperation we are receiving from Governor Corbett, Secretary Tomalis, Senator Smucker, and the other legislators from Lancaster in developing this program for our students."

Tomalis noted that Governor Corbett encourages schools across the state to explore and create similar high-quality programs to expand course offerings to students.

"Hempfield, Manheim Township and Penn Manor's program should serve as a model for schools across Pennsylvania," Tomalis said.  "High-quality, effective online and hybrid learning can expand students' educational horizons and allow them to succeed academically."

Media Contact:  Tim Eller, Department of Education, 717-783-9802
Sen. Lloyd Smucker's Office, 717-787-6535
Hempfield School District, 717-898-5564
Dr. Gene Freeman, Manheim Township School District, 717-560-3110
Cindy Rhoades, Penn Manor School District, 717-872-9500 x 2241

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education