Kansas Board of Regents gives key approval to Lawrence’s Peaslee Tech

The Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center, 2920 Haskell Avenue, Suite 100.

They likely won’t play each other in basketball anytime soon, but Lawrence now has two schools of higher education sanctioned by the Kansas Board of Regents.

The first, of course, is the University of Kansas, the Regents’ largest institution. Its newest, however, is Peaslee Tech, the Lawrence-based vo-tech school that is funded by the city, county and economic development organizations.

Leaders at Peaslee Tech recently received notification that the school had been accepted as a private, postsecondary institution by the Kansas Board of Regents, Kevin Kelley, executive director of the school, said. The recognition doesn’t mean that Peaslee Tech will start receiving state funding for its operations. But Kelley said the designation is a big step nonetheless.

“This is really an important part in the process of taking Peaslee from being a center to being a school,” he said.

The designation also may help financially. The new designation does mean Peaslee is eligible to participate in a statewide program to help retrain Kansas residents who are unemployed and underemployed. People who apply for job retraining assistance through the area Heartland Works office now will be able to choose Peaslee Tech as a place to take classes.

Serving as a sanctioned workforce training center should help Peaslee grow its enrollment toward the 1,000-student mark that Kelley has set as a goal for the school over the next three to five years. Kelley said enrollment at the school now stands at 409 students. That includes 33 students in a new automotive technology program. Other offerings include programs in the building trades, industrial maintenance, health care, information technology and several more.

Acceptance by the Board of Regents should be helpful if Peaslee chooses to apply for accreditation from one of the national organizations that accredit technical and career schools. Kelley said Peaslee Tech leaders haven’t made a decision about whether it will seek accreditation. Many of its programs get approvals by other organizations, such as trade councils that sanction apprenticeships. But full accreditation would make it easier for students at Peaslee Tech to qualify for federal financial aid.

Kelley said Peaslee Tech leaders had been working on gaining the Regents designation for several months. The school had to develop a new course catalog, new protocols for student transcripts and several other policies. The school now will have to submit an annual report to the Regents. As Peaslee Tech adds new programs, it also will have to seek approval from the Board of Regents, Kelley said.

Peaslee Tech’s campus is just east of the 31st Street and Haskell Avenue interchange, next to the Lawrence school district’s College and Career Center. Peaslee Tech accepts both adult students and a limited number of high school students. In addition to having its own instructors and classes, Peaslee Tech also offers several program from accredited community colleges across the state.