Open Campus PA is a unique collaboration between Manheim Township, Hempfield, and Penn Manor School Districts in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Open Campus PA, the first initiative of its kind in the state, makes optimal use of collective resources to blur the lines between school districts. High School students have gained greater choice in the courses they take and method of delivery to break down barriers of time and space.
Open Campus PA was launched in the summer of 2011 with a common vision of providing increased opportunities in an era of decreasing revenue through shared district resources. The board, administration, and faculty of each of the three districts have played a central role throughout the development and implementation of the partnership. The steering committee comprised of the superintendent, high school principal, technology director, union president from each school district as well as the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA/NEA) uniserv representative meet on a regular basis and serve as the decision making body for Open Campus PA. The three school boards provide oversight, approve policy and legal agreements, and meet jointly to review progress and discuss their shared vision.
The program has enjoyed strong support from Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis as well as Senator Lloyd Smucker and other members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Senate Bill 1492 was introduced by Senator Smucker in spring 2012 to provide legislative support for the initiative and was enacted into law as part of the Omnibus School Code legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and signed by Governor Tom Corbett on June 30, 2012.
Benefits for Students:
- Affords individualized educational opportunities
- Allows for internships, work schedules, etc.
- Provides opportunities for early graduation
- Allows for greater variety of options for classes (low student enrollment for class in individual district would result in cancellation of class offering)
- Ensures quality instruction delivered by well trained professionals
- Breaks down barriers of time/space
- Provides for an expanded community of learners more similar to a college experience
Benefits for Staff:
- Affords flexibility of schedule
- Saves jobs
- Provides opportunity to teach the same subject matter in a different manner
Benefits for Taxpayers:
- Utilizes district facilities more efficiently
- Affords potential multi-million dollar savings by eliminating need for additional high school construction
- Maximizes opportunity to bring back cyber charter students whose costs drain local district budgets
- Utilizes existing technology infrastructure and open-source software to reduce operating expenses
- Three large districts with high academic expectations
- Socioeconomic diversity within districts
- PSEA an equal partner in venture
- Model could be replicated by others throughout state, nation
- Offers educational school choice to all students