PA FFA Chapter a Casualty of School Budget Cuts?

PA FFA Chapter a Casualty of School Budget Cuts?

May 9, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Rural schools and tightening budgets – it’s a story we’ve heard before and are likely to hear in the future. This time, it’s the West Perry school district in Pennsylvania, where a $2.2 million deficit may impact the local FFA chapter. According to community members, the district may eliminate as many as 20 positions in an effort to work within the budget. The school board is scheduled to meet this evening, and a full force of FFA fans will be on-hand to show their support for the ag program.

Jim Presley, a manager at a local Tractor Supply store, voiced his support for FFA. His store has helped raise money for several local FFA chapters, and he says that the FFA has returned the favor in various ways: “They are very supportive of any type of special events that we have. The FFA is very eager to come in and work with our customers – they do a great deal for us as well.” Presley also offered high praise for two of his young employees who are FFA members.

Sophomore Jasmine Weibley, a member of the West Perry FFA chapter, plans to attend the meeting. She says that she hopes that members of the local school board and the community understand just how much of an impact FFA has had. “We‘ve had people post their stories – how FFA has changed them, what they‘ve done after graduation using agriculture, and things they‘ve gone on to do through college. Even now, kids who have just graduated are now state officers, and they want to come to this because the FFA has really affected them.”

West Perry FFA alumna Shawna Weller credits the program for her own post-graduate success: “FFA has really developed me with public speaking, working with others, and being a good leader in the community.” She also recalls how the program at her school was greatly enhanced during her freshman year when it was expanded from one teacher to two. “Having both teachers with two different perspectives and the option to take so many varied ag courses really expanded my horizons.” She laments the opportunities and experiences that future students may have to miss if the program is forced to cut back once again to a single teacher, as is feared.

RFD-TV’s Janet Adkison confirms that the West Perry FFA program really took off seven or eight years ago, when the program added a second teacher. Since that time, the chapter has grown from 38 members to 183 – and in addition, there are 170 middle school students who are also taking the program. A number of the chapter’s members and teams compete at the state and national level, and the chapter has also brought in over $45,000 in grant money which was applied for by the FFA advisors.

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