Several locals voiced their support for keeping classes within Junction City High School’s business pathway program — and a teacher of those classes — during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Rebecca Raastad addressed Unified School District 475 board members in regard to proposed changes within the business pathway program during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m aware business pathway classes at JCHS have been called into question recently,” Raastad said. “Becoming mindful of this, I did what I thought was best. I began advocating for the business pathway classes and for the instructor.”

Raastad said she created a petition that has acquired more than 1,600 signatures in support of the business pathway program, and Roxanne Whaley, who has taught classes within the program for more than 20 years. Many who signed the petition were on hand during Tuesday’s meeting.

“The petition has hundreds of testimonials on how these classes and instructor changed people’s lives and impacted them positively,” Raastad said. “Keeping the classes is vital to the school. Eliminating the business pathway classes — such as tax preparation, entrepreneurship and finance — would rob Junction City’s youth of an opportunity to prepare them for the real world.”

Raastad said she previously served as a teacher’s assistant for an accounting class.

“I could see the passion for business and finance grow within the class,” Raastad said. “Students learn real-life skills to help them budget and finance money for when they leave JCHS. When considering the removal of business pathway classes, board, keeping or altering them in any way, please keep in mind that it would deplete JCHS of its advanced education and exposure to necessary life skills.”

Whaley also attended Tuesday’s meeting, and addressed board members.

“Over 1,600 people have found me and reached out to save my job because they know I have passion for accounting, tax, JCHS and mostly my students,” Whaley said. “As of today, I have my job back, however the conditions of getting this job back is why I’m here tonight.”

Whaley said four classes she has taught for more than 20 years — including accounting, finance, tax and entrepreneurship — have been taken away from her.

“They’re giving me four classes that I have never taught before,” Whaley said. “Is this really in the best interest of the students? Shouldn’t I be the one teaching entrepreneurship, or a teacher that’s brand new? We are now going to have eight people teaching what four people used to do. And those people don’t have experience in any of these subjects.”

Several board members thanked visitors for sharing their opinions for consideration. Board member David Walker noted that he is a business graduate from Kansas State University.

“I remember going into the school of business with absolutely no background in any of the business classes I was about to take,” Walker said. “And I think it’s so important for us, as a high school, to begin to teach those basic things they’re going to have to learn when they go to college. And I appreciate your comments tonight.”

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