Ponitz Career Tech Center students who are certified as dental assistants participate in a job fair. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Dayton Public adds career tech classes at all high schools

Dayton Public Schools has added career technology courses at all of its high schools over the past year-plus in an attempt to give students more pathways to college and career success.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the program was launched last school year and has grown further this fall.

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“We’re offering three career tech classes in every high school building,” Lolli said. “Last year some of the CTC classes were not well recruited for, so they didn’t go forward, at Dunbar in particular.”

DPS has one formal career tech high school at Ponitz, where students can take two-year programs in digital design, culinary arts, automotive technology, dental assisting and eight other programs. But there are many students at the district’s five other high schools who had interest in career programs as well.

Lolli said Thurgood Marshall, Dunbar and Stivers each had enough interest to fill all three CTC classes this year, while Meadowdale and Belmont have two classes running. Some of the class subjects include allied health at Dunbar, biotechnology at Thurgood, computer science at Belmont, business administration at Meadowdale and photography/media at Stivers.

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With Ponitz, Dayton is one of a handful of local school districts with its own career tech center, joining Mad River, Kettering and a few others. Students at many other districts attend the Miami Valley CTC, or countywide career centers in Greene, Warren or Miami counties.

Some of those career centers have reached capacity, and local employers say they need more job candidates in some of the skilled trades that career centers teach.

Increasing the number of career tech course options will eventually make more students eligible for the TechPrep scholarship at Sinclair Community College, Lolli said, which gives qualifying students up to $3,000 toward a certificate or associate’s degree.

“We’re trying to emphasize that. While we advertised it a lot, we (need to do more),” Lolli said.

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The Dayton district’s four-year graduation rate has long been below 75 percent. Continued career tech growth could help on that front, as CTC pathways have become part of Ohio’s high school graduation system, for students who earn qualifying job credentials.

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