JIM THORPE — School`s out for the summer at Jim Thorpe Area High School.
But teachers, students, and parents wonder who will be in the classrooms next fall?
“I`m sure student safety is a concern for them,” said Superintendent Dr. Barbara Conway, who plans a community meeting Monday.
Parents and teachers recently learned the private company that runs Camp Adams Juvenile Center, in Penn Forest Township could soon stop on-site education.
If that happens, teens serving time at the camp would be bussed to Jim Thorpe Area High School.
“We must treat, those residents as though they are residents of the district because they are,” said Superintendent Conway.
When parents learned of this possibility, many were concerned about their kids going to school with kids from Camp Adams, which is home to about 50 juveniles sent there by a judge after being convicted of crimes.
“If they`ve been removed by a court, I don`t think they should be in our school,” said Danielle Rodriguez, who has a daughter at Jim Thorpe Area High. “There should be an alternative school for them.”
“I don`t think too many people would be for that,” added Sean Conway, who also has a child in high school. “There`s so much negativity surrounding that camp.”
And a man who has worked with troubled teens in Carbon County says it’s hard to convince people to have an open mind.
“With the right guidance from a good teacher, and the community behind them, they`ll be fine,” said Frank Phillips of Jim Thorpe.
The reason kids at the work camp might be sent to Jim Thorpe Area High: money.
The camp says it gets the same amount of state money per student as Jim Thorpe Area students. But the camp says it gets no money from school property taxes. Youth Services Agency, the company that runs the camp emailed us this statement. “We simply cannot continue our on-site school at half the amount spent on the average (Jim Thorpe Area) student.”
When asked if Jim Thorpe Area Schools were told they will have to take on the kids from the juvenile facility, Superintendent Conway responded, “No we have not. There have been discussions, but no we have not officially been told.”
If the kids at Camp Adams are educated at Jim Thorpe Area High next year, the district would be reimbursed by the school districts where the juvenile offenders are from, to pay for taking on the extra students.
One other possibility: Jim Thorpe Area Schools could hire teachers and staffers to operate the school at the camp, but that is seen as an expensive solution.
The community meeting on the matter is scheduled this coming Monday at 6PM at the Jim Thorpe Area High School Auditorium.