For years, the most common path for Hamburg Area students to join the work force after graduation was either through college courses or the Berks Career and Technology Center.

But those paths are not for everyone and the Hamburg Area School District is looking to provide more opportunities for its students.

"For about one-third of our kids, college or the career center is not their best option," Hamburg Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf said. "We want them to live here, work here, raise families here. We want to provide an on-ramp to their future."

On Nov. 19 school directors approved administrative changes that Mextorf sees as providing those opportunities to students.

The newly created position of Director of Operations and Project Development replaces the vacant facilities director position and includes additional responsibilities.

Hamburg High School Principal Chris Spohn moves into the new position and is eager for the challenge.

"I'm looking forward to putting my Army engineer hat back on," Spohn said. "We need high-skilled, high-end paying jobs. Where are companies going and who are they looking for."

Spohn would also work with local and state government, industry leaders and land developers to help bring jobs to Hamburg Area graduates.

Spohn also mentioned the idea that possibly the Hamburg Center could be used as a center for innovation and training.

Internships, registered apprenticeships and professional field experience will also provide students with valuable experiences, Mextorf said.

"We want our students to stay here, have meaningful work here," Mextorf said. "It's about creating opportunity."

The position will be evaluated in six months.

"This is a two-fold position," Mextorf said. "Are we addressing the needs of the facilities people."

School directors also approved moving high school vice-principal Chris Beissel into the position of interim principal and moving high school teacher Damian Buggy into the position of dean of students.

In other news, school directors discussed the results of a recent study on the high school's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

The results of the study recommended replacing the HVAC system at a projected cost of $1,455,300.

It will be on the Dec. 3 agenda for vote.

"It has needed major work for a number of years," Mextorf said. "We have budgeted conservatively and have funds available. We finished the year at $1.3 million to the good."

The system was upgraded in 2001 when renovations were made to the high school.

The next meeting of school directors is Monday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the James A. Gilmartin Community Room.

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