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Drastic Change to Audio Tech Program Leaves Students with Hard Decision



Hudson County Schools of Technology announced on January 21, 2022, significant changes to the hundreds of students in County Prep High School’s ATD and High Tech High School’s ACTE programs. A move intended to address efforts to unify both CTE programs. 

This fall, for the 2022-2023 school year, Country Prep High School/ATD and High Tech High School/ACTE will be combining their CTE programs. A letter from the Hudson County Schools of Technology states:

“The Earl W. Byrd Center, home of COUNTY PREP HIGH SCHOOL/ATD in Jersey City, will be the main campus for the Music Technology majors.” 

 “The Frank J. Gargiulo Campus, home of HIGH TECH HIGH SCHOOL/ACTE in Secaucus, will be the location for the Dance, Theatre Arts/ Drama majors.”

A disoriented High Tech High School student comments that the Audio Tech Department handles the behind-the-scenes work for other performing arts majors and if they aren’t there helping with lighting and sound behind the scenes, “who is gonna help the shows?”

Current Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors in their respective schools will have to decide to continue their studies with their CTE major and transfer to the appointed school, or remain at their current school and change their program of study. The social and emotional learning component is just as important as academics, and students from both schools feel disgruntled by the lack of transparency on decisions that directly affect them – the most they can do is hope for a clean transition despite “a different environment than expected.” 

Rod Shepard, Head of Music and Audio Technology, exemplifies,” the school has the responsibility to make the best decisions for the students,” he goes on to say that the most important people are the parents; they are “the taxpayers funding the county specifically High Tech,” yet parents were not advised before the decision was made. Parents of students from both schools are calling the board irresponsible and “uninterested in even learning how this school functions, and has no consideration for the future of these students and teachers.” 

The reforms and compounding challenges induce students, parents, and faculty to feel unstable; both schools anticipate political and emotional fights in the following months.