Chamber Q&A: Superintendents Answer Questions on Trade Schools, Sharing Resources

Teachers, administrators and community members question Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills superintendents ahead of the 2012-13 school year.

Superintendent Daniel Nerad and Bloomfield Hills Superintendent Robert Glass met Wednesday morning for a hosted by the .

At the forum, both superintendents answered a variety of other questions submitted by the audience, ranging from alternative schools to online learning:

What is the future of online distance learning and school libraries?

Glass: Glass said you will find a lot of blending experiences at Bloomfield schools, including curriculum where online learning is matched with classroom experience. "However, this is not something that works for every student."

Nerad: "There are some iterations of online learning that I'm uncomfortable with," Nerad said. "There's school but 'schooling' is something different."

Nerad also noted that library programs aren't just central to schools — they should be centered in schools.

Have you considered consolidating the two school districts or sharing resources?

Glass: "We see where the leverage points are for sharing," he said. "For example, when we have vacancies, we see if we can share staff (with Birmingham)."

Nerad: Nerad said he's open to sharing resources with Bloomfield Hills though consolidating the districts is a whole other conversation. "All politics is truly local," he said. "(Consolidating) is a much bigger question grounded in principles of local control."

What are you doing with alternative education?

Nerad: "For some kids who are not successful, some kids need a different approach," he said. Birmingham houses its alternative high school program at .

Glass: "Oftentimes, these programs get the leftovers when it comes to resources. Our's get a lot of attention," Glass said. Bloomfield Hills houses its alternative program at the Bowers School Farm.

What are you doing to further trade school education?

Nerad: Nerad said he's a believer in making sure all students have a next place to go — whether that's college or a trade school, if that fits their needs.

"The jobs of the future are calling for technical skills," he said. "We need to ask, 'What would a contemporary trade school look like?'"

Glass: Glass said his district hasn't had much luck reaching out to those students who want a trade school education, though with the consolidated high school, they hope to bring many of those programs in-house.

What are you doing to update the high school business programs?

Nerad: Nerad said he's not sure what Birmingham is currently doing, but he's "very interested" in furthering partnerships with local businesses and professionals.

Glass: Programs that involve local professionals are there, Glass said — such as in Bloomfield's robotics program — they're just not systematic across the board.

For more from the Back-to-School Breakfast, check out .


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