Cass County Democrat Missourian

Harrisonville weighs new IT courses

The new middle and high school courses would tap into a free, online curriculum with Chromebooks that students already use,
The new middle and high school courses would tap into a free, online curriculum with Chromebooks that students already use, AP

The Harrisonville School District is considering a computer science program for students in grades seven through 12, adding courses at the high school, middle school and the Cass Career Center.

“After hearing the need for computer skills throughout all industries, looking at our current computer science offerings, and complying with new computer science requirements from DESE (the state), the district wanted to develop a computer science continuum that would reach from seventh-grade through the Cass Career Center,”

Assistant Superintendent Dan Erholtz wrote in a memo to the school board.

For the school year that begins next fall, the proposal would add Computer Science Fundamentals, a quarter-long course, for eighth graders and Computer Science Discoveries, a semester-long course, for the ninth grade. Seventh-graders currently take Apps Maker, a quarter-long course that would continue.

The Cass Career Center would add a Networking and Cyber Security block program for juniors and seniors next fall as well.

“The feedback we have received from students, sending school counselors and administrators, and our industry partners all spotlight our need to add an IT program to our offerings,” said Jeanette Flanner, director of the Career Center, which is operated by Harrisonville but serves students from other districts. “After visiting some of the top career centers in our state, it was evident we needed to focus our efforts in networking and cybersecurity.”

Students would be able to obtain three nationally recognized certifications over two years, Flanner said.

During the following school year, 2020-21, Harrisonville High School would add a year-long Computer Science Principles course.

School district spokeswoman Jill Filer said none of the courses would be required, but most seventh-graders take Apps Maker and most eighth-graders are expected to take Computer Science Fundamentals.

The new middle and high school courses would tap into a free, online curriculum with Chromebooks that students already use, and teacher training would be done through Science City. One new staff member would be hired at the Cass Career Center and paid for through tuition from sending schools.

The school board will consider approving the proposal in January.

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