How local school districts are spending millions expanding career tech

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Area career tech schools are investing millions of dollars in building space to teach students, and buying and housing equipment they need to prepare those students for modern careers.

Ohio allocated $200 million in the state budget for facilities that is going towards adding space, and the state allocated $100 million towards equipment.

One of the largest awards given, $12.7 million, was to the Upper Valley Career Tech Center in Piqua.

Jason Haak, superintendent of Upper Valley CTC, said the extra space will allow them to accept around 170 more students. Currently, he said the career center has about 1,100 students on the campus, and they’ll be able to accept around 600 applications of the roughly 900 they’ve gotten for next year.

“It seems like year after year, we continue to see record enrollment requests of students coming here,” Haak said.

Other schools said space was an issue to serve all the students who are interested in career tech. Kettering’s Fairmont High School, which has a compact with Centerville and Oakwood to provide career tech, got about $2.8 million to expand engineering and advanced manufacturing programs.

Jensen said the money will go towards the engineering lab and creating an advanced manufacturing program.

Jensen said about half of Fairmont’s juniors and seniors are participating in career tech programs. That’s not due to lack of interest, but due to lack of space, she said — roughly 70% of the class applied.

“We take every kind of kid under the rainbow, I like to say, from honor students down to kids who potentially could have been a potential drop out if they hadn’t found the value of education in career tech,” Jensen said. “And you constantly to see improvements in English, math, science and social studies once they understand how those applied to the career of choice that they have.”

Greene County Career Center got $405,000 from the same grant to continue expanding. In 2020, the career center completed a $70 million, 272,000 square-foot campus in Xenia. Voters approved a 20-year, 1.03-mill tax to help pay for the new facility.

The 2020 Greene County Career Center expansion was part of several area expansion efforts with money not from the current state budget. The Miami Valley Career Tech Center is wrapping up a five-year, $158 million renovation project covering 600,000 square feet. State funding and a local levy from 2017 is funding that project.

Huber Heights spent $8.5 million in federal COVID-19 funds to build a new career center, focused on construction, welding and HVAC pathways. The programs are funded and staffed by the MVCTC.

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