BROOKSVILLE — The launch of adult technical education courses in Hernando County is once again facing the prospect of low enrollment, something that delayed a previous attempt to get the program going.
This time, Hernando County School District officials say they intend to plow forward.
With just days remaining until the courses are set to begin, just 11 people have signed up for the three courses.
Four people have signed up for the cosmetology class. Six have registered for a home health aide course. Only one has signed up for the culinary class.
The classes, which will be taught at Nature Coast Technical High School, begin Monday.
Ken Pritz, Hernando's assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said he was not disappointed in the low enrollment numbers.
"We kind of knew they would be low this first go-around," Pritz said. "We made a commitment — we're going to run the program."
County business development manager Michael McHugh, a key force behind the courses, said he wasn't surprised that enrollment is so low.
In a recent meeting, Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano told McHugh and others that they should expect to "crawl at first, then a slow walk, then you walk, and then you run.''
"It kind of helps because she's been through it,'' McHugh said. "She's obviously very fluent in that segment of education.''
McHugh said he expects interest to grow once the course offerings broaden.
"We wanted a soft opening,'' he said. "There's a learning curve, and we will learn from this.''
School Board Chairman Matt Foreman called the enrollment numbers "disappointing."
"It's a soft opening," he said. "Even with a soft opening, you hope for something better than this."
While disappointed with the low numbers for the program, which is being called the Suncoast Technical Education Center, he said he is looking forward to the district's big January launch for the center.
That's when the district plans to unveil three additional courses, made possible by a recent $1.5 million state appropriation to get the program up and running.
For the spring semester, the district plans to offer courses in automotive service technology; air-conditioning, refrigeration and heating, and machining.
Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes