Dayton to turn one of its high schools into second career-tech center

Teresa Greer (left) with the Dayton VA Dental Service gives tips to Ponitz Career Tech Center students who are certified as dental assistants. The school held an event Thursday, May 3 giving students a chance to talk to local employers, colleges and military recruiters. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Meadowdale High School will become Dayton Public Schools’ second dedicated career tech high school this fall, as the district continues to expand career-focused offerings for students, in line with state emphasis on that topic.

A list distributed by DPS shows that Meadowdale will offer classes in 10 career pathways for students — allied health, business, IT/digital design, engineering, exercise science, graphic design, biomedical, medical office, agricultural/environmental science and the urban teacher academy.

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Ponitz, the district’s existing career tech center, will offer classes in 13 career pathways this fall. Belmont High School will continue to house the district’s firefighter/EMT program, as the school is right next to a Dayton Fire Department station.

The other career tech classes that had been spread across the district’s other high schools, such as allied health at Dunbar and biotechnology at Thurgood Marshall, will be consolidated between Ponitz and Meadowdale.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said four programs or sub-programs will be new this fall – medical records, phlebotomy, environmental science and criminology/law enforcement.

“With the emphasis that the state’s putting on career and workforce development, we want to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of the community, the state and mostly the needs of our students in having these opportunities for them,” Lolli said.

RELATED: DPS launches firefighter/EMT program at Belmont HS

In recent years, employers in many skilled trade fields have said they’re struggling to fill open positions in Ohio, so schools have responded. Voters approved funding for a major expansion of the Miami Valley Career Tech Center in Englewood, which has had a waiting list for years, and a new, larger home for the Greene County Career Center, with more programs. An expansion of the career center at Fairmont High School in Kettering is also under construction.

In Dayton, three programs will be offered at both Ponitz and Meadowdale — allied health, business and engineering. The other pathways at Ponitz will be law enforcement, culinary arts, biotechnology, radio/TV, cyber security, automotive, construction, cosmetology, dental tech and graphic art.

Lolli said DPS sought input from its new business advisory team, which features companies in a variety of fields, to make sure it is offering valuable programs.

“We said to them, this is what we offer currently. What are your needs as a community business or organization?” Lolli said. “And through that conversation, we came up with the courses that we’re adding for this coming school year.”

RELATED: Employers meet with Ponitz senior class

The application process for DPS’ career tech centers begins Thursday for incoming freshmen and next week for sophomores. The directors of many of DPS’ career programs made presentations to eighth-graders two weeks ago during a career fair and are making more presentations at DPS middle schools.

Lolli said once DPS students have applied and been accepted for career tech programs, the district will begin accepting applicants from local charter schools. Lolli said more than 200 former charter school students are at Ponitz now, and DPS wants to make sure there are enough seats for both existing DPS students and charter students who want to come back to DPS.

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