Kettering’s Career Tech to expand with new building, more students

Kettering schools plan to expand career tech programs at Fairmont High School in fall 2020 after passage of a permanent 5.99-mill additional tax levy last November.

The levy is going to pay for day-to-day operating expenses and will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $209 annually. The issue will raise $7.5 million per year for a district with a $94 million annual budget.

The district’s career tech program’s expansion — including a new building — will benefit students and open up new educational opportunities according to Career Tech Principal, Liz Jensen.

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“We currently have about 40 percent of the juniors and seniors at Fairmont participating in one of our 12 programs, and this will put us closer to 50 percent plus as we view this expansion,” she said.

Fairmont has career tech programs that include: Automotive, Biotechnology, Allied Health, Interactive Media, Engineering, Construction Trades, Business Academy, Digital Design, Early Childhood Education, Info Tech, and Marketing.

With the additional funding, a new building will be constructed on the Fairmont campus that will add space for the career tech program and add more programming.

“In 2020, with the building that we are putting on our campus, we are going to add a cosmetology program in there, so that will be roughly 50 kids will be able to participate in that each year,” Jensen said. “So, 25 juniors and 25 seniors once it gets going. Then, we are going to move our construction program out there, which will allow us to increase our capacity in construction class because we are limited to the number of kids that we have right now by the small size of our facility.”

In 2021, Jensen said the plan is to remodel the current construction classroom that is being vacated in order to house the medical assisting program.

“So that will be another 25 juniors and 25 seniors when it gets going,” she said.

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Ken Lackey, director of business services for the district, said the district plans to break ground on the new 25,000 square-foot building sometime in the spring.

“We want it to be done in the summer of 2020, so that the new programming can start for students in the 2020-21 school year,” Lackey said. “We are in the design phase now. It is going to be located on what is currently the field hockey field and will be connected to the West Unit building via a connector.”

He added that the alternative school program currently housed in the Barnes building will join the Construction Trades and Cosmetology programs in the new facility.

“It will be a state-of-the-art facility built for these types of programs,” Lackey said. “We are seeing a high demand in the workforce for these careers and seeing a strong desire from our students to to get into these programs.”

Junior and seniors are eligible to take the programs and there are also semester electives in all of the programs except Construction Trades for freshmen and sophomores who want to learn more about the career tech education being offered.

“We are very excited to have career tech as an opportunity for kids to have hands-on career exploration at the same time as powerful academics,” Jensen said. “We are very proud of our model to have career tech delivered right in the same building down the hallway from athletics, music, and activities.”

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The motto in the career center is: “Try what you want to do and be for free.”

“We are very passionate about kids not doing their career exploration once they get to college and potentially dropping out, changing majors, wasting money,” Jensen said. “We want then to do that career exploration with us for free.”

Success in the program is measured in finding out what works, and sometimes, what doesn’t.

“When you graduate from a career tech program, if you find out that is what you want to be - success,” Jensen said. “If you find out that is not what you want to be - also a success because you did it all for free. I think career technical education is for 100 percent of the kids at Fairmont or any school district because it’s that beneficial for them.”

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