Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lawrence schools planning expanded career and technical education

December 16, 2012


The Lawrence school board hopes to finalize plans for an upcoming bond election, including plans for expanding career and technical education programs, when the board holds a special meeting this week.

The board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the district office, 110 McDonald Drive.

Rick Henry, career and technical education specialist for the district, updated the board last week about the kinds of career and technical programs that officials would like to offer by forming partnerships with area community and technical colleges to teach classes at a facility in Lawrence.

Those programs include health sciences, machine technology, computer networking and commercial construction. Those would be in addition to the culinary arts program currently offered at the facility. Officials estimated the cost of launching those programs at about $4.4 million.

Those programs would also be in addition to the career and technical education classes already offered within the district at the two high schools.

"In talking with high school administrators, and some middle school administrators as well, we've selected some programs that have a good market outlook and things that we feel are needed and are necessary in our area and we feel would appeal to our students," Henry said in an interview.

District officials say there is wide recognition now that a high school diploma is no longer enough to qualify someone to enter the workforce. The vast majority of jobs today, even those in mechanical and industrial trades, require at least some amount of post-secondary education or technical training.

In 2012, according to administrators at Free State and Lawrence high schools, about half of the graduating class went on to attend a four-year college, and about 25 percent went to a two-year community college or technical school, with many of them indicating plans to eventually get a four-year degree.

But that leaves about 25 percent of students who will still need some kind of additional training after high school to qualify for most entry-level career positions.

But two recent events have made that more feasible: passage this year of a career and technical education initiative, which essentially provides free tuition for high school students to enroll in certain kinds of post-secondary career programs; and a new willingness by Kansas University to allow other post-secondary schools to offer programs within Douglas County, as long as they don't duplicate programs already offered by KU.

The career and technical education project is only a small part of the bond proposal that is mainly focused on upgrading elementary schools and providing enhanced technology throughout the district. Last week, the board received estimates ranging from $85 million to $105 million for the entire list of projects.

The elementary school enhancements alone account for an estimated $70.5 million of those costs.

The school board plans to place the bond issue on the April 2 election ballot for voter approval.


David Holroyd 5 years, 4 months ago

85 to 105 million could rebuild every school building. District is wasteful!

Hwy50 5 years, 4 months ago

"85 to 105 million could rebuild every school building. Save_Our_Neighborhood_Schools is wasteful!" FTFY

Remember, the original plan was to build new schools, not remodel old crap schools. Yet, that wasn't allowed to happen.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

If the rule of thumb of past boards was to NOT maintain taxpayer owned school buildings why build new buildings that are NOT necessary.

For with a rule of thumb such as the above any board that would subscribe to such would allow for crappy new construction thus costing taxpayers wayyyyyyy more money.

Can we say fiscally reckless?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

IF the total project can be accomplished without raising taxes in any way I will support the bond issue.

The measures being offered up are about 20 -25 years behind schedule. I commend this board for stepping up to the plate.

Now we'll see what is offered and IF there is no tax increase?

Or perhaps what the district can achieve without increasing taxes?

Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 4 months ago

This is at least 50 years too late. It should have been done decades ago. And KU should have no role in deciding what is to be taught! That has been a large part of the problem for many, many years.

Bob_Loblaw 5 years, 4 months ago

Not using any resources from KU makes no sense....there are plenty of vocational-related areas that KU could definitely assist with.....see other post....

chootspa 5 years, 4 months ago

It makes lots of sense when the state money is currently going to community college programs.

Bob_Loblaw 5 years, 4 months ago

I said "resources" not money.....good PR for a KU department can go a long way. Free consulting and advice etc. is one of those intangibles that still can end up keeping a child in state once they graduate if it comes down to two options.

Bob_Loblaw 5 years, 4 months ago

Does either Lawrence high school have something like this at least -

Considering we have an Engineering department at KU.....seems like we should....there should be a better partnership overall between our K-12 and KU in vocational areas.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 4 months ago

What authority does KU have to say what can be done in the Lawrence Public Schools?

Brad Greenwood 5 years, 4 months ago

KU doesn't. The article is referring to KU allowing other post-secondary institutions (like JCCC) to offer courses in town.

gert891 5 years, 4 months ago

where is the culinary arts program that is currently offered?

JasonSprenger 5 years, 4 months ago

Skills gaps do exist and are getting worse in the economy today, and it's prudent for communities to invest in solutions. One of them is career and technical education (CTE), which has proven to produce a return in areas like improved student achievement, career prospects, more trained workers for the jobs of today and improved community vitality. Programs like this would make a tremendous difference.

The Industry Workforce Needs Council is a new group of businesses working together to spotlight skills gaps and advocate for CTE as a means of bridging them. For stats and other information, or to join the effort, visit

Jason Sprenger, for the IWNC

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